Thursday July 19, 2018

Acosta: No reason for Aguirre to inhibit from Delos Santos' case

PUBLIC Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta came to the defense of her boss, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, amid calls from two senators for the latter to inhibit from Kian Loyd Delos Santos' case.

Acosta believed Aguirre should not inhibit as he will not be the one to handle the complaints but the National Prosecution Service.

"I think hindi naman kailangan hilingan yan dahil hindi naman si SOJ (Aguirre) ang magiimbestiga kundi mga fiscals. Mga fiscals natin from the ranks. Alam ninyo naman hindi nakikialam ang mga SOJ sa preliminary investigation," she said in a chance interview.

Acosta on Friday accompanied the parents of Delos Santos in filing criminal charges of murder and torture against four Caloocan City policemen at the Department of Justice.

Delos Santos was shot by policemen on August 16 during a "one-time-big-time" operation in Barangay 160, Caloocan City.

Senator Risa Hontiveros called Aguirre to inhibit from Delos Santos' case, while Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon urged the Justice Secretary to allow the Ombudsman to investigate the teener's death.

"In the coming days, we will seek legal ways of making the justice secretary inhibit himself from this case. We will not allow him to undermine the credibility of the witnesses, weaken the case and limit the level of accountability to a few rotten police personnel," Hontiveros said in a press conference.

Drilon, for his part, stressed that the DOJ had "obviously disqualified itself" by showing manifest partiality in favor of the Caloocan policemen and characterizing the death of Delos Santos as "collateral damage," and "isolated incident" and simply "blown out of proportion."

Hontiveros also called on Aguirre to cease from offering to bring the witnesses under his department's witness protection program (WPP).

"After his one-sided statements in yesterday's hearing, the justice secretary has lost all credibility to hear this case. He has also lost the trust and confidence of the public that he can capably protect the witnesses. Placing the witnesses to Secretary Aguirre's 'care' would be like delivering sheep into the lion's den," Hontiveros said.

Three witnesses, including two minors, are currently under the custody of the Senate upon the insistence of Hontiveros, who earlier said that the victims fearing for their safety requested her assistance.

Aguirre has responded to Hontiveros call for him to inhibit on Delos Santos' case, saying he will inhibit if Hontiveros will also inhibit on cases where she evidently displays her biases.

"I have no problem with that. But she should also inhibit on Senate investigations and other matters where her fairness and impartiality are under question," Aguirre said.

He said Hontiveros, who called him an "areglo king", should stop her drama before she be called a "drama queen".

"Alin ang case na inareglo ko? Dapat itigil niya ang drama niya para di siya tawaging drama queen," Aguirre said. (SunStar Philippines)