There is no sacred cow under the Duterte administration.
This was the assurance made by incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, saying even the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ) that gave its supposedly solid 1.7 million votes to Rodrigo Duterte would not be spared.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) under the leadership of then Secretary Leila de Lima and until today under acting Secretary Emmanuel Caparas has not made its final ruling on criminal charges filed against some INC officials by former fellow officials.
On Tuesday, Aguirre told a television program that the INC support to Duterte during the elections “shouldn’t be taken into consideration insofar as I’m concerned.”
“Kung ganun ang paninindigan ng isang [if that is the view of a]prosecutor, then that would be selective,” he said.
Aguirre added that the DOJ will run after those officials of the Aquino administration and lawmakers who might have gained substantial amounts as kickbacks in the implementation of the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fund.
Outgoing Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and several other officials of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) are facing criminal charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the DAP.
Abad has been accused as the “brains” of the controversial program.
The DAP was launched at the height of the impeachment trial ofthen-Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona over unexplained huge income, including his maintenance of US dollar accounts.
It was made public by Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.
In the same television program, Aguirre noted that massive corruption transpired in the implementation of the DAP, but he made it clear that he was “not prejudging anything.”
He said the DOJ will conduct an investigation first “and if the evidence warrants, then we are going to file cases against them. “Walang sasantuhin [No one is excluded].”
Aguirre pointed out that the fight against graft and corruption was in accordance with instructions to him by Duterte.
He said that Duterte’s marching order in so far as graft and corruption is concerned was no one should be a sacred cow “no matter who gets hurt.”
Other problems that need to be resolved by the DOJ, according to Aguirre, are the the Maguindanao massacre in 2010 where 58 people, including 32 journalists, were killed; the killing of 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force in 2015; drug-related cases; the unabated prevalence of drugs and other illegal activities at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila); and the 20,000 pending cases filed at the DOJ for reconsideration.
He said all these problems can be solved properly, effectively and fairly by simply applying the laws.
Aguirre is a native of Mulanay, Quezon.
He was a classmate of Duterte at the San Beda College of Law and passed the Bar in 1971.