MANILA, Philippines — A youth group filed Wednesday an ethics complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguiree II, accusing him of “repeatedly making false accusations and allegations” but refusing to “take responsibility for his actions.”
The “Millenials Against Dictators” also sought Aguirre’s removal from office, with one of the complainants, Shamah Bulagnis, calling him “a factory of fake news,” for violating Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.
The complaint cited Aguirre’s press June 7 conference where he claimed Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Antonio Trillanes IV, along with Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano and Ronaldo Llamas, political adviser to then President Benigno Aquino III, met with members of prominent clans in Marawi City and hinted that this was linked to the subsequent outbreak of fighting between extremist gunmen and government forces.
Aguirre was forced to backtrack and also apologize to the Alonto and Lucman clans when his claim was proven to be false. He also came under fire from media groups when he tried to blame journalists for the faux pas.
Despite this, he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the supposed meeting.
MAD also cited three previous instances of Aguirre allegedly spreading fake news:
- His claim that some officials of the Korean embassy may have been compromised by their country’s mafia and could be involved in the abduction and murder of businessman Jee Ick Joo.
- His claim that Lalaine Madrigal Martinez, wife of an inmate at the National Bilibid Prisons, had been ambushed despite denials by the Makati police.
- His claim that former senator Jamby Madrigal, who he wrongly identified as a relative of Lalaine, allegedly tried to bribe NBP inmates to recant their testimonies against Senator Leila de Lima.
The complaint said Aguirre’s “propensity to make unsubstantiated and even fabricated accusations render him unfit for public office since continued actions erode public trust in government and more particularly in our justice system.”
But beyond “skirting his duties as Justice Secretary and misleading the public with his outright lies,” Aguirre’s “refusal to publicly apologize for his actions amount to conduct unbecoming of a public officer and clearly indicate his lack of probity, and accountability,” it added.
Thus, “as head of the Department of Justice, Respondent falls short of the exacting standards required of a public office and thus must no less be removed from office in order to preserve the image of the justice system and restore the public’s trust in government,” it said.
The complaint against Aguirre was also filed by Andrei Buendia of the Ateneo Debate Society, Anna Mercaldi of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, Fatima Tolentino and Nikki Nicolas of the San Beda College of Law Student Government, Julie Corridor of UP Diliman University Student Council, sociology student Rae Emmanuel Echaveria and Jonna Roldan of the De La Salle University-Manila.