MANILA, Philippine – It was just last April when they began exchanging heated words as if there was no more hope for them to reconcile.
But on Thursday, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang met apparently not to continue wrangling but to make peace.
“Mr. Ang made the brief courtesy call, accompanied by his lawyer, primarily to express his full support to the Duterte administration’s crusade against any form of illegal gambling and to clear some issues that brought about some misunderstandings in the past,” Aguirre said in a statement issue Friday, confirming earlier reports that he had met with Ang at the DOJ office in Manila on July 20 at around 6 p.m.
In April, Ang claimed that Aguirre and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon were allegedly engaged in illegal gambling and that the two wanted the controversial businessman dead.
Ang also accused Aguirre’s brother Engineer Ogie Aguirre of working with the DOJ secretary in allegedly controlling small town lottery (STL) operations in Southern Luzon provinces such as Laguna and Batangas and in the Bicol Region.
Also, Ang alleged that Esperon was working with two generals in controlling STL operations in Northern Luzon, including Pangasinan.
This was denied by Aguirre and Esperon.
The DOJ chief said Ang was “imagining things” and that his accusations were “all lies and fabrications” as he and his brother were “never involved in illegal gambling.”
What the DOJ chief admitted later was that his brother was in the process of legally attaining an STL franchise from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Aguirre alleged that Ang was the one involved in illegal gambling Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, which the businessman denied.
Esperon meanwhile denied links to any STL operations and said that what he wanted killed was illegal gambling and not Ang.
Last May, Aguirre again assailed Ang, accusing him of either working with “destabilizers” against the Duterte administration or being used by Macau-based tycoon Jack Lam in revenge for the DOJ’s crackdown on the latter’s Fontana business.
“I have information of his connection with destabilizers. We are now building up that angle,” said Aguirre.
The DOJ chief also said he wanted Ang investigated for possible tax evasion.