MARAWI CITY -- Lanao del Sur’s vice governor refuted the insinuation of Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre that some leaders of the Liberal Party and representatives of prominent Maranao families met days prior to the siege of this city.
In a press conference held at the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol Wednesday, Mamintal Adiong Jr. refuted Aguirre’s statement regarding the supposed meeting between Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Congressman Gary Alejano, and Ronald Llamas and scions of the Lucman and Alonto families prior to the crisis in Marawi.
Both Trillanes and Alejano were known to be critical of the Duterte administration, while Llamas is the former political adviser of then-President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
But Adiong said the supposed meeting did not happen, although he said that Aquino was in Marawi last May 19 but for an official purpose.
“I categorically deny that such meeting ever took place,” the vice governor said.
Aquino had visited Marawi as guest of honor of the launching of the Lanao del Sur Negosyo Center, as he was the author of the Go Negosyo Law.
Aguirre’s pronouncement came out in online reports Wednesday afternoon prompting Adiong to issue a reply.
Shortly after the news circulated, Adiong said Aguirre got in touch with him saying the media “misquoted” the justice secretary.
“At 1:02 p.m. today [June 7], Secretary Aguirre called me up and said his statements were misquoted by the press,” he said.
Adiong assured that “the Alontos and the Lucmans and the entire provincial government of Lanao del Sur, the City Government of Marawi City, and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will double our efforts in our coordination with the National Government and our security sector to ease the tension and to bring normalcy back in our area.”
Aguirre had called for an investigation into an alleged meeting among opposition lawmakers and local leaders of Marawi City, weeks before the Maute terror group laid siege on the southern city.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Aguirre said Senators Bam Aquino and Trillanes, along with Magdalo Party-list Representative Gary Alejano and Ronald Llamas, former political adviser of then President Benigno Aquino III, held a meeting with local leaders at the Lake View Resort Hotel in Marawi on May 2.
“Hindi ko malaman why after they went there e nagkagulo na after about two weeks, they met with the people there, they met with several families,” Aquirre had said.
He said the supposed efforts of the opposition legislators to meet in Marawi could be a part of their plan to destabilize the Duterte administration.
The justice secretary also tried to link the P52 million in cash discovered at a hideout of the Maute group in Marawi to the alleged meeting between the legislators and local officials. (With a report from SunStar Philippines)