MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday said that he has accepted the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
“I accepted the resignation of Vit Aguirre. I am looking for a replacement,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang but did not provide further details.
This comes after reports surfaced that Aguirre has already filed his resignation letter or that Duterte was expected to fire him during Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
The President was reportedly upset over the Department of Justice's dismissal of drug trafficking charges against businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
Before Duterte’s speech, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a noontime Palace briefing said that there was no indication that Aguirre had been sacked or had resigned.
“I have no information on this and I do not know, where the information is coming from. But Secretary Aguirre was present as Secretary of Justice in yesterday’s Cabinet meeting,” Roque said.
“He was there as always, he seemed normal. There was no indication that he was on his way out. It was—there was nothing extraordinary in effect ‘no. He was just there like always,” he added.
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.
Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said that there was no impending revamp in the Cabinet despite Duterte having previously mentioned that he was unsatisfied with the performance of some of its members.
“We are not aware of any impending Cabinet revamp,” Guevarra said.
Roque earlier quoted Duterte as saying that if Lim and Espinosa get away with their crimes, Aguirre would replace them in jail. (PNA)