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Duterte taps Vitaliano Aguirre II as Napolcom commissioner

Former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is rejoining the Duterte administration, this time as an official in an agency in charge of disciplining police personnel and investigating irregularities in the police force.

Aguirre has been asked by President Rodrigo Duterte to become a commissioner of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) representing the private sector, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Monday, January 11.

This comes after the death of Napolcom vice chairman and executive officer Rogelio Casurao last January 2. To fill in his post, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who is also Napolcom chairperson, had appointed Felizardo Serapio Jr as officer in charge.

Roque said Aguirre's experience as Duterte's justice secretary "bodes well in his new position to make the police service competent, effective, credible, and responsive to our people's needs."

Who is Aguirre?

Aguirre had resigned in 2018 following several controversies in the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the dismissal by DOJ prosecutors of charges against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, which had angered Duterte.

Yet Aguirre, a fraternity brother of Duterte and one of his lawyers when he was Davao City mayor, had not been totally cut off from the President, appearing at some events even after his departure from the Cabinet.

Aguirre had also lawyered for Bienvenido Laud, an ex-cop who owned the infamous Laud Quarry, said to be the location of mass graves of victims of death squads in Davao City during Duterte's mayorship. Laud was said to be a member of the Davao Death Squad, according to self-confessed former members who testified in congressional hearings.

In 2009, Aguirre, as lawyer of alleged Davao Death Squad member Laud, sought to block attempts by law enforcers to search the Laud Quarry for human remains.

Back then, and again when he was justice secretary, he had claimed that the bones found in the quarry by a police team belonged to Japanese soldiers killed during World War II.

Aguirre's new role: Watching police

With his new position, Aguirre will now be part of an agency that must watch out for misdemeanors by police.

The Napolcom is an agency attached to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, which administers and controls the Philippine National Police.

It is supposed to investigate wrongdoings by police, has the power to dismiss cops, and administers the police entrance examinations. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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