February 15, 2017
HONTIVEROS TO AGUIRRE: EXPLAIN NOW, GET CONFIRMED LATER
"He has a lot of explaining to do."
This was the statement of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros to Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre during the latter's scheduled confirmation of his appointment on Wednesday.
Hontiveros said that her colleagues in the Commission on Appointments should suspend indefinitely Aguirre's confirmation pending a thorough and satisfactory explanation from the justice secretary regarding several controversies he is allegedly involved with.
The senator was referring to the alleged special treatment given by Aguirre to convicted drug lords. Hontiveros also raised the issue of Wally Sombero, the alleged representative of online gaming tycoon and alleged human trafficker, Jack Lam, who left the country under the DoJ chief's watch unmonitored despite a lookout bulletin. She also pointed to Aguirre's controversial meeting with Lam, and the involvement of his men in a P 50 million extortion attempt.
Why is the justice secretary giving special privileges to convicted drug traffickers? Did he allowed Wally Sombero to leave the country? Why did the justice secretary put himself in a situation that allowed the likes of Jack Lam to try to bribe him? What is the extent of his knowledge regarding his commissioners' extortion activities? Assuming without conceding that he doesn't know, isn't this outright negligence on his part? These are some of the questions that Aguirre has failed to answer adequately," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said that the issues lodged against Aguirre are very serious as they undermine the integrity and credibility of the Department of Justice.
"They merit no less than the justice secretary's full disclosure and clarification. Until then, I think it is fair for the Committee on Appointments to defer Secretary Aguirre's appointment to highlight the gravity of concern regarding the issues that continue to hound him and pending a thorough explanation from his end," Hontiveros concluded.
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