There are rumblings in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the prosecutors from the government are angry and demoralized.
The justice department under the leadership of Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is under fire as a consequence of what critics call as a double whammy for the justice system in the Philippines.
The department is facing massive public outrage caused by back-to-back developments described by many as a travesty and mockery of our judicial and prosecutorial system.
First is the anomalous dismissal of drugs cases of notorious drug lords such as Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and Peter Co and, secondly, is the admission of pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to the Witness Protection Program of the government which is a preliminary step before being discharged as an accused and considered as a state witness in criminal cases pending before various trial courts in the country.
But what got the ire of government prosecutors, most of which are senior career officials who are already part of the DOJ even before Aguirre took over when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, was the secretary’s act of feigning innocence of the dismissal of the said cases against the purported drug lords at the expense of other officials under him.
According to an insider from the DOJ, some state prosecutors were piqued by Aguirre’s claim that the prosecutors are not following his orders. Worse, it was reported that the members of the panel of prosecutors who reviewed and issued the questionable resolution were hurt by the justice secretary’s order to have them investigated.
“With cases as big and sensationalized as these drug cases, no prosecutor in his right mind will resolve the cases without first conferring with the secretary,” a veteran senior state prosecutor who spoke on condition anonymity emphatically asserted.
The controversial resolution clearing the suspected drug lords was dated as early as December 20, 2017 but was only made public on March 12, 2018 when it was discovered by reporters.
Hence, it will be totally silly and preposterous for Aguirre to pretend not to know about such resolution.
“Nanggigigil sa galit yung ibang kasamahan namin dito. December pa yung resolution na yun. Now that there is a widespread public outrage over it, biglang hugas kamay si Sec at biglang linaglag yung mga tao niya,” the same senior state prosecutor revealed.
Meanwhile, another senior official of the DOJ who also requested us not to publish his/her name accused Aguirre of lying through his teeth when the latter claimed that he has no control and supervision over the fiscals of the country.
“That is a big, blatant lie.”
According to the said official, when Aguirre took over the helm of the DOJ, he immediately and arbitrarily implemented a nationwide reassignment of senior prosecutors. Most of those who were affected are senior state prosecutors who are known to be independent-minded and cannot be easily dictated upon to toe the line of the powers-that-be. Also affected are those whose previous posts are now being held by fraternity brothers of the justice secretary and the president in the Lex Talionis fraternity of the San Beda College of Law.
Cited as an example is Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon who was detailed in the far away province of Guimaras island when the Duterte administration assumed office. It was only recently that he was able to return to the main office of the DOJ in Manila City.
Aguirre also attempted to replace City Prosecutor Edward Togonon of Manila who allegedly has links with opposition senator Frank Drilon with a more junior prosecutor Alexander Ramos who happens to be a member of Lex Talionis too. The plan did not materialize because Togonon was hell-bent in fighting Aguirre’s unlawful order up to the Supreme Court. As a compromise, Togonon, after being suspended by Aguirre, got back his position as city prosecutor but will avail of early retirement option even before attaining the age of mandatory retirement.
The cases of both Fadullon and Togonon disprove the contention of Aguirre that he has no control and supervision over the prosecutors of the National Prosecutorial Service which is directly under the DOJ. On the contrary, he has been using and abusing such powers by issuing illegal and unreasonable orders.
The latest controversy involving Aguirre shows once again not only his incompetence but also his utter lack of leadership. Washing his hands of ala-Pontius Pilate in order to save himself but at the expense of his own people underscores his trait as a weak, irresponsible and pretentious leader.
A true leader bravely assumes responsibilities for the act of his subordinates. There is, after all, such thing as command responsibility.