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Palace: Aguirre still enjoys President’s trust

Malacañang on Thursday stood by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II amid calls for him to resign following his prosecutors' decision to dismiss the criminal charges against self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa, businessman Peter Lim and other suspected drug personalities.

At a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Aguirre still enjoys the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte who got upset by the resolution of the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel of prosecutors on the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police last year. 

"[T]he President has not hesitated to fire even members of the Cabinet. For as long as he [Aguirre] has not been fired, he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President," Roque said.

Aguirre, who bucked calls for him to quit, has set up a new panel to resolve the motion of reconsideration filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

He also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the prosecutors that cleared Espinosa, Lim and several others of the charge of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading for lack of evidence.

Lucena City Judge Aristotle Reyes, a former assistant state prosecutor and part of the panel that produced the December 20 resolution, said they decided the case based on available evidence.

Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John Humarang, also a member of the panel, said the PNP did not present sufficient evidence but instead relied only on testimony of its sole witness, Marcelo Adorco, a former aide of Espinosa.

The DOJ panel said Adorco's "uncorroborated statements" could not be used as evidence against the respondents. — Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News