Opposition senators on Monday said they were looking forward to questioning Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre as regards his supposed claims that lawmakers met with political families in Mindanao before the Marawi siege.
Aguirre's allegations as reported by the media were denied by senators Antonio Trillanes and Benigno Aquino IV, and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who also showed records that they were in the Senate and the House when the supposed meeting happened.
Senator Grace Poe, the chair of the Senate Committee on Public Information, called the inquiry on Aguirre's claims and the so-called fake news proliferating in the media and the social media.
Aquino, who had tagged the allegation as “fake news,” vowed to “confront” Aguirre during the said hearing.
“Definitely! Gusto kong marinig mula sa kaniya na kung ano talaga ang nangyari at kung bakit siya naniwala sa fake news,” Aquino told reporters.
“Kung ang Justice Secretary natin mismo may problemang ganiyan, hindi lang ito problema ng kaniyang ahensiya, problema po ‘yon ng ating buong bansa," he added.
Aquino appreciated that Aguirre retracted his claim but added that Aguirre should apologize.
He said Aguirre had yet to apologize for alleged “false claims” that Aquirre made before.
“Ang hinihintay natin ay ang pagso-sorry. Kasi ‘pag mali ang ginawa mo, tama lang na mag-apologize ka,” Aquino said.
“Sinasabi nga ng mga kasama ko… ‘wag na raw hintayin. Pero I’m sure magkikita rin kami niyan. Si Senator Grace has said she will call [for] a hearing on fake news, and Senator [Joel] Villanueva said he will file a bill penalizing those that spread fake news. Definitely, magkikita pa rin kami ni Secretary Aguirre,” he added.
Trillanes said Aguirre had lost his credibility, and that the hearing will only expose such.
“Papa-produce natin sa kaniya ‘yung Facebook intelligence niya. tingnan natin kung paano siya pagtawanan ng taumbayan,” Trillanes said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the former ruling Liberal Party, welcomed the Senate inquiry, saying they see it as an initial legal step after Aguirre backtracked on his comments and key figures’ denial of such.
“Tayo’y naniniwala na isang paraan ito para makita natin ang puno’t dulo nitong paratang na ito at ng imbestigasyon na ito,” Pangilinan said.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said it was “about time” for such investigation because making false claims against opposition lawmakers had "been going on for a while.”
“At least he can defend himself because there’s so many accusations against him,” Drilon said. —NB, GMA News