Can Justice Secretary Aguirre hack it?



IT’S been nearly three months since Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II brought to Congress several witnesses who alleged—even submitting sworn statements—that Senator and former justice secretary Leila de Lima received money from at least one drug lord, Kerwin Espinosa.

It was even high drama when her former lover and driver-bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan, disclosed details of their relationship and how the former justice secretary asked him to get P8 million from Espinosa for her senatorial campaign funding. Why, even the confessed illegal drug lord Espinosa admitted that he indeed gave the money to De Lima, in exchange for her protecting him in his illegal-drug trade.

Gang leaders at the Bilibid National Penitentiary also testified that in exchange for millions of pesos, De Lima had protected them, and allowed them to operate the illegal drug trade and live extravagant lifestyles inside the prison, and even managed to procure prostitutes.

In November, Aguirre even called a press conference in which he announced that De Lima was legally liable “for immorality and concubinage” for having a relationship with her driver-bodyguard Dayan.

Yet with the accusations, and even De Lima’s defiant face starting to fade from public interest, Aguirre has so far not filed a single case against the senator, much less arrest her. De Lima has even heaped scorn on President Duterte’s justice secretary, ridiculing him for his toupee and calling him a “mediocre lawyer.”

So far, the only case to be brought against De Lima is a disbarment case, on grounds of immorality, by private individuals and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption. The Supreme Court, where the case was filed last January 11, ordered De Lima to respond to the accusations.

Justice Secretary Aguirre vs former justice secretary

Aguirre’s foot-dragging, or being so overly legalistic and cautious, stands in contrast to De Lima’s guts, even if immoral, when she filed cases against former President Gloria Arroyo on the flimsiest grounds (such as for approving the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office PCSO’s request for intelligence funds, which is routinely done by a President). De Lima even defied the Supreme Court by refusing its directive to allow the former President from leaving for abroad for a medical emergency.

Aguirre’s failure to prosecute De Lima will mean the failure of President Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. The illegal drug trade has proliferated in this country because law enforcers, politicians, and even judges have protected the syndicates. De Lima’s prosecution would be Duterte’s demonstration that he is dismantling such corruption. Duterte’s war just can’t be against small-time pushers and even addicts.

If Aguirre can’t hack it, and appears to be unable to do his job, Duterte should start looking even now, for his replacement. Or his declaration of a war against illegal drugs will mean empty braggadocio.

Emerging Prison Crisis
While Duterte’s war against illegal drugs is portrayed as to be a take-no-prisoner kind of war, still, as happened in Thailand’s similar campaign from 2003 to 2008, it will swell the country’s prison population to crisis proportions that would be a national shame.

While other nations have bigger prison populations—our 142,168 (as of late 2016) is only the fourth largest in Southeast Asia—we have the most crowded jails.

Chart background: Crowded Quezon City jail Source: Institution for Criminal Policy Research, London

Our prison population is four times our facilities’ capacity of just 34,000, according to the World Prison Brief of the London-based Institution for Criminal Policy Research. While Thailand’s prison population of 304,090 is more than double ours, its occupancy level is just 147 percent, less than half our 316 percent.

Rather than the result of an improved justice system (i.e., its increased inefficiency in bringing criminals to jail), the growth of our prison population by nearly double, from 79,300 in 2010 to 142,168 in 2016— with the prison population rate (or number of prisoners per 100,000 population) worsening from 102 to 140— is a testament to the country’s worsening poverty and our people’s increasing propensity to commit crime. Economic growth just hasn’t reached the poor, so that many of them have resorted to crime.

During Thailand’s very similar campaign against illegal drugs, its prison population swelled 9 percent from 167,142 in 2004 to 210,855 by 2008. If we use a similar 9 percent growth rate, our prison population will grow to 155,000 in four years.
We do not have a plan to increase the capacity of our prison system. Republic Act 10575, or the Bureau of Corrections Act of 2013, only called for the transfer of the New Bilibid National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa to a new P50-billion facility in Nueva Ecija. Its present Muntinlupa site will be bid out to property developers— which perhaps explains why that is a priority.

But the new facility’s capacity would only be for 26,880, hardly making a dent in our prison population of about 155,000 in five years when it is expected to be completed—if the project indeed takes off the ground.

If Duterte fails to increase our facilities’ capacity soon, the Philippines’ image will be that of that horrible photo of the overcrowded Quezon City jail, in which prisoners live worse than rats in a cage.

FB: Rigoberto Tiglao and Bobi Tiglao


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  1. I agree with Mr. Tiglao. De Lima should be hauled now to jail without bail. Let her rot there for the next 5 years in a similar fashion the way they did to the former president. If they can incarcerate GMA on spurious charges, Aguirre has more solid proof to nail De Lima. This woman is running rings around Aguirre.

  2. Ewan ko ba Sec RT, kahit ako eh naiinip at naaasar na sa tagal. Puro parada ng mga witness pero ala nanyayare. How how de carabao??? Tuloy panay ang porma ni delimaw!!!

  3. Hwag naman sanang tanggalin, assistant na lang sya ng bagong lidership na matatalaga ni President Duterte. Bigyan si Aguirre ng specific assignment, tulad ng kay De5 para mapadali.

  4. I agree, masyado mabagal si Aguirre. Parang takot gumalaw. Kung ng si Delima hindi sumusunod sa rules at ruling nakalusot dapat ganon din gawin sa kanya ng DOJ. Damputin na yang senadorang yan!

  5. How about SolGen Calida to the DOJ post? The guy seems like a brave soul to me, certainly more gutsy than Aguirre.

  6. Sack Aguirre puro sat sat. Get Atty Acosta or Ambassador Tiglao as DOJ and you will see how fast this Bitch Delima goes to Jail. . If Aguirre is waiting for Morales to step down, by that time Delima will fly the coop. I am sure that shit faced Nicolas will help her out. Why doesn’t Aguirre at least get a hold order against Delima? He seems so scared shit of her. Charge her like she did GMA, get a warrant from any small court in any province to make sure she stays here. The woman is shameless and she do anything to put one over us. The people are getting sick of watching Delima brave it all. Maybe one of the Tulfo brothers can do a better job.

  7. You are right Mr Tiglao, he got a very weak personality, he promised that by November 2016
    delima will be in jail but until now people like me keep on asking myself ” what happen “??? He lost the integrity and respect when dalima keep on cursing and scolding him. What a snail mover.

  8. Bobi Tiglao thank you for the reminder re Sec. Aguirre. Support mechanism to Pres. Duterte’s campaign of War on Drugs must be reliable, at hindi panay ‘satsat ng satsat.’ Time for substantial personnel turn over. Forget, classmate-classmate, prove your salt or get busted.

    • mukhang si aguirre ay puro daldal lang. ginagawa syang o gag ni de5. pati si du30 ay nasasama sa kabagalan nyang umaksyon. naghihintay ng pasko?? ay tapos na pasko. siguro pasko ng pagkabuhay naman ang hinihintay ni aguirre. GISING ATTY AGUIRRE. GINAGAWA KA YATANG LARUAN NI DE5. PATI SI DU30 NASASABIT SA KABAGALAN MO

  9. SOJ Twiggy Agiurre is a mediocre lawyer – Boom! – Kung tatagalugin siya ay isang “Ampaw” – hindi ba nakakahiyang balikan na nung impeachment trial ni late CJ Corona – halos matanggal ang Wig nya sa sabon na inabot niya sa naasirang MDS?
    Een my lawyer friend swears how many times they face off in court – says he “UBOD ng BOBO ang Taena yan!”
    It’s about time to change and boot out Twiggy – he can be good as Notarial Lawyer …..near Manila City Halls’ eleator.

  10. Although I applaud Aguirre’s effort. I do agree he lacks that authoritativeness for this post. No question he is smart, but he’s that articulate and convincing. I believe he is just being diligent so the case wont be put to waste.

  11. The reason Sec Aguirre is not yet filing a non bailable case against delima is because he is waiting for the ombudsman to be replaced to insure that delima will be behind bars come 2018, the year morales’ term expires.

  12. Yes. Aguirre seems to be all bark but no bite. It’s about time that the coup de grâce be delivered on De Lima. Aguirre seems to be more interested in talk.

  13. I totally agree on all the comments made on this article. President Duterte should sack Aguirre immediately. He is all talk no action.

  14. Aguirre is soooooo weak a lawyer, the DOJ is too big for him. Walang dating. Parang di totoo ang sinasabi kahit totoo. Mas articulate pa nga si Jaybee Sebastian.
    Not a match for a fiesty lie-lie de lie-ma.
    It’s high time he is replaced ng ala-Frank Chavez, ala-Madam Miriam.
    Sorry, po, Sir Aguirre.

  15. Marshall Laway on

    Du30 should appoint Roberto Tiglao as appointed secretary of justice (no need to be a lawyer this time) so that he can get even with De Lima for prosecuting Gloria “I Am Sorry” Macapagal Arroyo.

  16. Napakahinang Justice Secretary nitong si Aguirre. Kung anong tinapang tapang ng bossing niyang si DU30 siya naman ang kaduwagan nitong si Aguirre. Pinagtatawan lang siya ni De Lima at ng AMLA. Masyadong nerbyoso at sigurista kaya nagdudulot tuloy ng kabagalan sa trabaho. Dapat palitan ni DU30 ito kasi masyadong naiiwan sa kangkongan sa bilis ng aksyon na ginagawa niya pero pagdating sa Justice Secretary niya, mabiis pa yon prosesyon ng patay sa aksyon.

  17. Many law abiding citizens are living like rats. Why prioritize the prisoners? Take care of the good citizens first.

  18. I have the sinking feeling that not only Secretary Aguirre but the Senate and its Ethics Committee cannot hack it. The president needs a Justice Secretary who is decisive, articulate, forceful and can stand to-toe with Delima because so far she has been able to run around the two houses of Congress, the Justice Department, and even the Supreme Court. Enough with the back and forth press conferences.
    I think the Filipino public in general, who sat through the congress’ various hearings, is impatiently awaiting a resolution of the case against Delima. So far it has been just numerous court filings which seem to be going nowhere; and politicians’ grand standing depending on their party affiliation. If Aguirre cannot handle it, he needs to be changed fast; and the Senate Ethics Committee needs to do its job and take final action; else you earn the ire and ridicule of the Filipino people. You have all the testimonies and most of the evidence. Common sense shows that at the very least, there is enough ethics violation to remove Delima from the Senate where she seemingly continues to outsmart and outmaneuver the Senate, Congress and the Justice Department, and continues to use the media as a platform to disrupt the country with unbelievable arrogance. Maybe out of the Senate, she can concentrate on working to defend the numerous cases filed against her, and Congress can focus its attention on legislating for the country.

  19. Sir, your observation is similar to many of your readers that’s why the senator is just laughing at toupee. Even that tokhang was illegal as senate hearing report concluded due to violation of Miranda Doctrine.