Aguirre asks intel agencies to probe ‘meeting’ prior to Marawi attack

MANILA-- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday will ask the government's intelligence agencies to investigate the alleged meeting of some lawmakers prior to the terror attacks in Marawi City which was perpetrated by the Maute group which he described as possibly a part of the destabilization plot against President Rodrigo Duterte's administration.

Aguirre said the investigation should push through despite criticisms for what appeared to be false information about a supposed meeting between two opposition senators and several Muslim clans in Marawi City two weeks before the Maute attack.

Aguirre said that the information as well as the photo showing the alleged meeting - which turned out to be from a fake news item - did not come from him.

"I'm not spreading fake news. The photo did not come from me and the information was just given to me so I am having it investigated," he explained.

During the press conference on Wednesday morning, Aguirre said it was possible that the May 2 meeting which, according to him, was also attended by Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano and former presidential adviser on political affairs Ronald Llamas could have sparked the terrorist attack in the city.

Senator Aquino, he went to Marawi on April 24 and April 28 and they stayed, they had a meeting at Lake View Resort Hotel on May 2. Present were Senator Aquino, Trillanes Alejano and Llamas and some clans in Marawi city. They met with the people there they met with several families there. I don't know why after they went there, these things happened, Aguirre told reporters adding the information was provided to him by an informant.

When asked on who are the families who were present in the meeting, Aguirre said it include members of the Lucman and Alonto clans, two of the prominent families in the area.

He said it was possible the meeting could have agitated groups in the city, adding it could even be part of the moves to destabilize the Duterte administration, though he admitted that facts and evidences were needed to support this.

However, Aguirre issued a statement late on Wednesday afternoon denying his earlier remarks.

I did not say there was a meeting between the two families and some lawmakers prior to the Marawi seige. The said meeting never took place and no member of both families ever met with Senator Trillanes, Congressman Alejano and Ronald Llamas. Governor Soraya Alonto Adiong invited Senator Bam Aquino to be their guest of honor during the launching of the Lanao del Sur Negosyo Center last May 19, 2017 in Marawi City as he is the author of the GoNegosyo Law.

"There were reports that some opposition senators and leaders who went to Marawi to recruit local politicians and warlords to destabilize the Duterte administration. To the Alonto and Lucman families, my sincere apologies for any confusion about this issue, the DOJ Secretary noted.

He also called Aquino to apologize and clarify his side on the matter.

"I never said that they were successful in recruiting any local politicians and warlords," he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency