MANILA – Reporters covering the Department of Justice issued late Thursday (June 8) a statement taking issue with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s clam that he was “misquoted” when journalists wrote that he had linked several opposition lawmakers to the Marawi siege.
The journalists urged Aguirre to come clean instead of making them scapegoats, stressing that besides the fact so many of them heard him say what they later reported, their videos, voice records and even Facebook Live coverages simply quoted him verbatim.
Aguirre had said Senators Bam Aquino and Antonio Trillanes IV, along with Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and ex-Cabinet official Ronald Llamas, were in Marawi meeting with Maranao leaders a few days before the terrorist siege that began May 23.
Aguirre later apologized to two influential Maranao families dragged into the fray – the Lucmans and Alontos – but not to the lawmakers. He claimed he was misquoted, and later even disowned the photo he showed them from his mobile phone, which he claimed was taken in Marawi in May, showing the alleged “meeting.” The photo turned out to have been taken in late 2015 at the Iloilo airport.
FULL TEXT OF THE COURT REPORTERS’ STATEMENT HERE:
We, members of Justice and Court Reporters Association or JUCRA Press Corps, take exception to the statement of the good Secretary of Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II claiming that he was misquoted in our news reports from his press conference where he dragged several opposition lawmakers into the Marawi siege.
As recorded in our videos and voice recorder and even in our Facebook Live coverages, we quoted Sec. Aguirre verbatim and only reported the facts to our viewers and readers – including the fact that he showed a photo from his mobile phone supposedly showing the meeting between the senators and Muslim clans in Marawi last May 2.
As responsible journalists, we also took the opportunity to perform our duty of verifying the counterchecking the information and photo that the Secretary has presented during the briefing, and found that several details and information were wrong.
We remain committed to our role as a watchdog, especially in these times when “fake news” have been spreading in social media and the truth is becoming scarce.