MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said that the terror attacks in Marawi City which was perpetrated by the Maute group is possibly a part of the destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
Aguirre made the statement, pointing out that opposition lawmakers led by senators Paolo Benigno “Bam”’ Aquino and Antonio Trillanes IV and certain families met in the city weeks prior to the Marawi siege.
Aguirre said it was possible that the May 2 meeting which, according to him, was also attended by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and former presidential adviser on political affairs Ronald Llamas could have “sparked the terrorist attack” in the city.
“Because sina Senator Bam Aquino, hindi naman, sinasabi ko lang, he went to Marawi on April 24, and April 28, and they stayed, they had a meeting at lake view resort hotel on May 2. Present were Sen Aquino, Ronald Llamas, Alejano, Trillanes and some clans doon sa Marawi. Mga Moro family. So hindi ko malaman why after they went there, nagkagulo na after about two weeks,” Aguirre told reporters during the press conference held in DoJ.
When asked on who are the families who were present in the meeting, Aguirre said it include members of the Lucman and Alonto clans, two of the prominent families in the area.<>He said it was possible the meeting could have “agitated” groups in the city, adding it could even be part of the moves to destabilize the Duterte administration, though he admitted that facts and evidences were needed to support this.
The DOJ chief also said the intelligence community should also check if the opposition lawmakers were the ones who brought money to Marawi in the wake of the discovery by the military of some PHP79 million in cash and checks from a house used by Maute members in the ongoing clashes in Marawi.
“But, I don’t want to connect it, unless there is evidence on the money seized, so let’s wait for the result of the investigation,’ he clarified.
Aguirre also showed the media a photo purporting to show the meeting that took place in Marawi. He, however, hid his phone after the media tried to capture the photo in his phone.
Asked if the government is looking into that meeting, Aguirre answered “I will suggest it will be looked into, (because) I only received this information yesterday (Tuesday).”
He said that he will talk to his asset who was present at the meeting.
Sought for a comment, Senator Aquino said that there was never any meeting among the individuals mentioned by Aguirre.
He said that on May 2, he was the PUP commencement speaker at the PICC and attended the session at the Senate.
”My trip to Marawi was on May 19, 2017 to launch the first Negosyo Center in the ARMM and I had with me an AFP escort throughout my trip, which can easily be verified through the AFP. Vice Gov. Bombit Adiong, B/Gen. Rolando Joselito Bautista and Gen. Nixon Fortes were also with me during the event,” he said in a statement.
He added that DTI Sec. Mon Lopez has already publicly clarified and confirmed that he was in Marawi City for the Negosyo Center launch and these are easily verifiable for anyone who cares to find the truth.
”It would be prudent for Sec. Aguirre to clarify dates, seek evidence and request for official statements from legitimate government agencies before he makes yet another false accusation. This tragedy could have been an opportunity to unite the Philippines against a common enemy. Instead, it’s being used to further political interests and further divide our country,” the lawmaker said. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Azer Parrocha/PNA-northboundasia.com