Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday slammed the appointment of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to the National Police Commission (Napolcom) as a commissioner representing the private sector.
Hontiveros questioned Aguirre’s appointment citing questions on his credibility. She said it would be difficult for the Philippine National Police (PNP) to gain the public’s confidence following Aguirre’s appointment.
“How could he make the PNP credible and efficient if he unabashedly spread conspiracy theories? People might not trust PNP more because of this appointment,” Hontiveros stated. “Again, the President could have made a more judicious choice for this role.”
“If we look at Aguirre’s reputation as a public official and the number of questionable deals he allowed, I have a feeling he could not be of help to his fraternity brod (referring to President Rodrigo Duterte) in improving the image of the PNP,” she added.
Duterte and Aguirre were classmates in the San Beda College of Law. They are also both members of the Lex Talionis Fraternitas Inc. Sodalitas Ducum Futurorum, an exclusive fraternal organization of Filipino jurists, legal practitioners and law students of the school. It has a chapter at the Ateneo de Davao University College of Law.
“I cannot imagine a person who freed drug lords, made light of the laws of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and sold our borders to foreigners via the Visa Upon Arrival scheme would be given back his power,” Hontiveros, who led the Senate investigation on the alleged bribery scheme in the BI branded as the pastillas scam, said.
It earned the name pastillas for the manner the bribe money given to Immigration officials at the airports was wrapped in paper resembling the local delicacy.
During the Senate hearings on the pastillas scheme, Aguirre was tagged by columnist Mon Tulfo as the “protector” and “godfather” of the BI personnel involved.
Aguirre dared Tulfo to file cases against him to support his claims before the courts.
On Monday, Malacañang announced Aguirre’s latest appointment, saying Aguirre’s former post “bodes well in his new position to make the police service competent, effective, credible, and responsive to our people’s needs.”
Aguirre stepped down as Justice chief when he figured in a string of controversies, the most prominent of which was the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) clearing of Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim of drug charges.
Aguirre was also implicated in the P50-million bribery scandal that involved resigned BI deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.
His role in the anomalous scheme was scrutinized after it was revealed that he agreed to meet with some individuals in a hotel to discuss the arrest of over 1,000 Chinese employees at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga.
During his stint at the DoJ, he also dismissed parricide charges against Bohol Board Member Rey Niño Boniel for killing his wife, Bien-Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel. He resigned after that.
Meanwhile, Malacañang on Tuesday brushed off Senator Leila de Lima’s remark accusing Duterte of “recycling trash” after Aguirre’s Napolcom designation.
In his televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque defended Duterte’s decision to reappoint Aguirre in the administration and told De Lima to just wait for her turn to become president so she can pick her own officials.
“Let’s just say that appointment is an exclusive prerogative of the president. Senator De Lima should wait for her turn to become president so she can appoint whoever she wants,” Roque said.
The Palace official added that De Lima has an ax to grind against Aguirre since she was jailed over drug charges when he was still the DoJ chief.