MANILA, Philippines – Minority Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV is demanding a public apology from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for spreading fake news linking opposition lawmakers to the Marawi clash.
Aquino said Aguirre, in a phone call initiated by Senator Loren Legarda, apologized to him on Wednesday night. But he said it should be a public apology, since Aguirre made his "outrageous" claim in public.
In his personal apology, Aguirre told Aquino that he got confused with all the reports he received.
"Nag-usap na kami (We already talked). He already apologized. He told me, with all the reports, he got confused. Na-confuse daw po siya sa mga reports na pumasok sa kanya (He said he got confused with all the reports that he received). Humingi siya ng paumanhin (He apologized). He said he would publicly clarify and apologize today," Aquino said in a press conference on Thursday, June 8.
"I'm really hoping gagawin niyang totoo that he will clarify publicly, apologize publicly, at matigil na ganitong akusasyon na walang basehan (he will do this, that he will clarify publicly, apologize publicly, to put an end to this baseless accusation)," Aquino added.
As government troops continued to fight local terrorists in Marawi City, Aguirre on Wednesday, June 7, insinuated that opposition lawmakers Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Aquino and Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano may have had something to do with the attack. In pushing for his claim, Aguirre used an old photo to implicate them. (READ: FACT-CHECK: Aguirre uses old photo to tag opposition lawmakers in Marawi crisis)
Aquino said some groups have asked him file a case against Aguirre and he is considering it. He said he is also thinking of calling for a Senate investigation into the matter but will finalize it when Congress resumes sessions in July.
The senator slammed Aguirre anew for spreading fake news, saying the Cabinet official was violating the military's call to the public to stop doing so. He also warned Aguirre of the grave implications of spreading fake news.
"AFP na mismo nagsabi na 'wag maniwala sa fake news, 'wag mag-se-spread mas nakakagulo 'yan (The AFP itself said don't believe fake news, don't spread it because it creates more confusion). But there he was spreading fake news himself," Aquino said.
"Seryosong bagay ito. 'Di katawa-tawa, 'di puwede palagpasin. Kailangan ma-clarify; maayos. May implication ito sa (This is a serious matter. It's no laughing matter, it shouldn't be glossed over. It should be clarified; settled. It has implications on) security, policies, relationship between agencies," the senator said.
Aquino also sees politics as the reason behind Aguirre's claims, considering that the justice chief singled out opposition lawmakers in his allegation. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com