AMID the controversies hounding the Department of Justice (DOJ), President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed Thursday, April 5, that he has accepted the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
Duterte, in a speech delivered Thursday, did not give details on Aguirre's resignation, but merely said that he is now scouting for the new head of the DOJ.
"I accepted the resignation (of) Vit Aguirre," the President said during an event held at the Malacañan Palace.
"I am now looking for (a) replacement," he added.
Duterte made the announcement just three hours after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said there has been no indication that Aguirre would be fired despite persistent rumors that the Justice chief was on his way out.
On Wednesday, April 4, Aguirre still attended the Cabinet meeting at the Palace. A photo released by the Palace showed a smiling Aguirre beside Duterte in one photo and cheering the President in another as the latter blew the candle on his birthday cake.
Aguirre tendered his resignation about two weeks after the DOJ's Task Force on Anti-Illegal Drugs, in a resolution signed on December 20, 2017 but was made public just last March 22, recommended that the drug charges against alleged top drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim be dropped.
Aguirre has since overruled the DOJ resolution that dismissed the charges and reopened the case, allowing the submission of additional evidence against Espinosa, Lim and their alleged cohorts.
Also under Aguirre's watch, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles was placed given partial protection under the DOJ's witness protection program last February 27.
The recent developments at the DOJ have prompted critics to call for Aguirre's removal from the post.
Roque on March 15 said Duterte still trusts Aguirre, even though the DOJ was embroiled in controversial issues. (SunStar Philippines)