If there is anything that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre realized after his confirmation by the Senate committee of the Commission on Appointments, it was that he could not afford to be “onion-skinned”.
In an ambush interview after the committee gave its nod to his nomination on Wednesday, February 15, Aguirre admitted that he was “onion-skinned”, especially when his “honor and integrity” were being questioned.
Aguirre got into a tiff with a familiar foe at the Senate, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who asked the committee to investigate Aguirre before confirming his nomination, citing several reasons:
* He was insulting to Sen. Leila de Lima;
* He provided privileges to high-profile inmates at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center;
* His links to Wenceslao”Wally” Sombero, the alleged “bagman” of online gaming operator Jack Lam, who has been accused of bribing two officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Aguirre denied the allegations but also lost his cool in the process.
“I should not have said that kaya sabi ko nga, for the first time in my six years as Secretary of Justice, dun lang talaga ako nawalan ng equanimity or cool kasi inatake yung sensitive sa akin, yung honor and integrity,” he said.
(. . .that’s where I really lost my equanimity or cool because my honor and integrity, which are sensitive to me, were attacked.)
When asked what his message to Trillanes was, Aguirre said: “Wala. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Senator Trillanes gawa ng apparently, we were able to talk ‘yung aming good relationship”.
(None. I am thankful to Sen. Trillanes because apparently, we were able to talk about our good relationship.)
“I was reminded of the Supreme Court decision that government official should not be onion-skinned… I will not be onion-skinned anymore and kung meron nasabihan ako na ganun, I will seek refuge in a clear conscience” he added.
Aguirre apologized recently to Senators Trillanes, de Lima, and Francis Pangilinan for accusing them of being part of a plan to implicate him in the immigration bribery scandal.
“I asked for apology and I’m sincere about that,” Aguirre said during the same interview.