Aguirre stays as justice secretary for now

Pia Ranada
Aguirre stays as justice secretary for now
The embattled justice secretary is not fired during the Cabinet meeting on April 4

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II got through the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, April 4, without getting fired by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Philippine Star had earlier reported that Aguirre would likely be fired by the President during the meeting or by the end of the week.

For now, it seems, Aguirre remains in Duterte’s Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting, which began around 6 pm and ended around 11:40 pm, discussed matters like the 6-month closure of Boracay and peace talks with communists. 

Aguirre was present at the meeting, seated, as usual, between Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

He had been on leave the day before supposedly because he had been feeling under the weather and had to see a doctor.

GOOD VIBES. Justice chief Aguirre has his photo taken with President Duterte. Photo sent by Secretary Aguirre

At the end of the Cabinet meeting, Aguirre even had his photo taken beside Duterte. He also joined the rest of the Cabinet in greeting Duterte a happy birthday and watching as he blew candles on a birthday cake.

On Wednesday, Malacañang reporters burned the midnight oil waiting for updates from the meeting, especially for any news about Aguirre’s fate.

Suspicions that the justice chief is on his way out began when Duterte remarked in a previous Cabinet meeting that if drug suspects Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa are allowed to get away scot-free, he would put Aguirre behind bars.

Soon after, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the public can expect changes in Duterte’s Cabinet.

Duterte had supposedly been outraged over the dismissal of the case involving the two high-profile suspects by a panel of prosecutors under Aguirre.

Aguirre has since nullified the findings of the panel and ordered a new investigation. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.