Aguirre stays as Justice chief amid sacking rumors


MANILA — Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II remains a part of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Cabinet amid rumors that he was at risk of getting fired.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a text message to reporters, also denied rumors of the sacking saying that “there was no such thing.”

The Philippine Star earlier reported that Duterte was expected to fire Aguirre during the Cabinet meeting.

Aguirre himself shared to reporters a photo of himself seen smiling beside Duterte after the Cabinet meeting.

More photos from Malacañang showed Cabinet members, including Aguirre, watching Duterte blow candles on a cake. Duterte turned 73 last March 28.

Before the Cabinet meeting, Malacañang said that it was unaware of any impending revamp in the Cabinet, following reports that Duterte is unsatisfied with the performance of some of its members.

“We are not aware of any impending Cabinet revamp,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a Palace briefing.

Reports have claimed that Aguirre and Department of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III have already submitted their resignation letters, while another report said Duterte is likely to fire Aguirre over the dismissal of drug trafficking charges against businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Guevarra, however, dispelled these rumors.

“The Office of the President has not received any letter of resignation from either Secretary Bello or from Secretary Aguirre. And the President has just returned from his Holy Week visit to his hometown, and he has not given any statement regarding this matter,” he said.

Guevarra said that Duterte is “generally satisfied” with Aguirre’s performance as justice secretary except for the dismissal of drug charges against Lim, Espinosa and apprentices.

Roque earlier quoted Duterte as saying that if Lim and Espinosa get away with their crimes, Aguirre would replace them in jail.

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