Aguirre shrugs off militant group’s resign call

MANILA Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday shrugged off anew the call of a militant group for his resignation over the dismissal of the drug complaint filed against businessman Peter Lim, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and several others and the provisional admission of pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles to the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

We respect the valid exercise of freedom of assembly and expression. However, I will remain for as long as I enjoy the trust and confidence of the President, Aguirre said in a text message.

Mga ignorante ang mga yan. Kahit alam nila na tama ako, ginagawa nila just to put us in bad light (They are all ignorant. Even if they know that I'm doing the right thing, they do it just to put us in bad light.) Aguirre said in response to the protests of members of the militant group Akbayan group who protested at the DOJ compound.

Some protesters who were wearing colored wigs chided Aguirre over the dismissal of charges against alleged drug lords and the partial admission of Napoles to the WPP.

"Secretary Aguirre is a coddler of dictators, drug lords and scammers," said Akbayan communications officer Justine Balane.

Aguirre earlier said that he would only quit if the President would ask him to do so, or if he felt he has lost his trust in any way.

In a related development, lawyer Abdiel Fajardo, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines also asked the DOJ to explain what it means when it said that Napoles has been provisionally accepted into the WPP.

Fajardo said there is no provision in Republic Act 6981 or the Witness Protection and Security Benefit Act for a provisional or temporary coverage.

I looked at the law and there is no provision about provisional acceptance so I want to hear from the DOJ what they mean by that, Fajardo said in a television interview over CNN Philippines Monday.

The law said accept or not only. If they are saying there are threats to her life, well, she is already in custody, he added.

Fajardo said there is a possibility that Napoles can be used as a witness but that would depend if what she would divulge are credible enough.

She was a major witness since she started the JLN Corporation that allegedly started and created these supposed non-government organizations that turned out to be bogus NGOs. It's possible but possibility is different from credibility, Fajardo added.

But he added that there are jurisdiction that has already questioned the credibility of snitches, of statements coming from snitches.

Sought for comment on Fajardo's claim, Aguirre said the IBP chief should read the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 6981 before making his claim.

Please tell him to read the 2012 IRR, Article 5 Section 2 of Republic Act 6981. Tell him to read first the IRR before commenting, Aguirre said in a text message.

Under RA 6981, before a person is admitted into the WPP, he or she shall execute a sworn statement describing in detail the manner in which the offense was committed and his or her participation therein.

If after the examination of the said person, his or her sworn statement and other relevant facts, the DOJ is satisfied that the requirements of the law and its implementing rules are complied, then that person can be admitted into the WPP.

On Friday, Aguirre confirmed that Napoles has executed an affidavit which provided more details on the alleged misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The WPP is administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

WPP is a program established under Republic Act No. 6981 or "The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act," which seeks to encourage a person who has witnessed or has knowledge of the commission of a crime to testify before a court or quasi-judicial body, or before an investigating authority, by protecting him from reprisals and from economic dislocation.

However, Aguirre said Napoles is still not under the physical custody of the WPP.

"As of the moment, physically she is not under WPP due to provisional status of admission. If requested by subject we can provide additional security and as warranted, address medical needs," Aguirre added.

Napoles remains in detention since she is still facing plunder, graft and malversation charges before the Sandiganbayan, along with former senators Jinggoy Estrada, Ramon Bong Revilla Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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