April 19, 2018, 7:50 pm
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Cabinet member faces relief, says Andanar

BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR

ONE Cabinet member will be sacked by President Duterte, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said yesterday.

Andanar, in separate radio interviews, said the President mentioned during one meeting in Malacañang that he would be removing someone, in response to whether he was satisfied with the performance of the Cabinet.

“Nabanggit ni Presidente na mayroon siyang aalisin. Hindi naman tanggalan pero mayroon din daw siyang aalisin (The President mentioned that he would be removing someone. It would not be a major revamp but he said he would remove someone),” Andanar said.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier said there might be some changes in the Cabinet. Last week, Roque said Duterte threatened to “jail” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre in place of suspected drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, if the two manage to “escape.” 

The threat was issued after a team of prosecutors from the justice department recommended the dismissal of drug cases against Espinosa, Lim, and several others. A new investigation panel is reviewing the case.

Over the weekend, Aguirre came under fire anew, this time for placing Janet Lim Napoles, alleged mastermind in the P10-billion pork barrel scam, under “provisional coverage” of the witness protection program.
Aguirre, in an interview over radio dzRH yesterday, said politics could be behind relentless criticisms he has been receiving.

He also said some justice department employees who remain loyal to the previous administration may have leaked copies of the resolution dismissing the case for weak evidence. The resolution was dated Dec. 20, 2017 but was learned by media only Monday last week.

“Kaya nagtataka ako kung bakit ito nakalabas (So I was wondering how this came out). So somebody must have leaked this resolution because hindi pa tapos ang process sa DOJ,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre reiterated the resolution issued by the prosecution panel composed of then Assistant State Prosecutor (now Lucena RTC judge) Aristotle Reyes and Michael John Humarang is not yet final since the complainant, which is the PNP-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group,
has filed a motion for reconsideration.

On his politics angle, Aguirre said his son, Aris, has declared he would run for congressman in the third district of Quezon which he is the “district ng Suarez dynasty.”

Aguirre is from Mulanay town in Quezon.

Sen. Francis Escudero said Aguirre was making an alibi when he blamed the PNP-CIDG for the dismissal of the drug charges.

He said the CIDJ and the DOJ are both under the executive branch and it would be impossible for them not to discuss the cases they file.

He also said the prosecutors should have asked the PNP why it did not include the admission of Espinosa during Senate investigation on the killing of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa last year.

Aguirre has blamed the CIDG for not including the confession of Espinosa in the Senate when the police filed charges against him and other suspects. Espinosa pointed to Lim as his supplier at a Senate hearing in 2016.

Reyes, one of the prosecutors, has said the duty of the prosecutor is not to gather evidence but to evaluate the evidence submitted by the CIDG. – With Ashzel Hachero and JP Lopez
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