Escudero wants to hear Aguirre’s side on raps downgrade

MANILA-- Sen. Francis Escudero on Thursday said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should be given a chance to explain on the downgrading of charges filed against the policemen involved in the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

It may be recalled that Aguirre announced that the charges filed against cops accused of killing Espinosa were downgraded from murder to homicide charges.

"Maganda siguro na mapakinggan si Sec. Aguirre, ano ba talaga ang dahilan ng pagbabago ng isip. Bakit at ano ang basehan kung meron man ng sinasabi niyang homicide at hindi premeditated (Maybe it's best to hear Sec. Aguirre's side, what is his reason why he changed his mind. What is the basis of arriving to the decision to charge them with homicide and that it's not premediated?), Escudero said in a Kapihan press conference in the Senate.

Escudero said he is open to Sen. Richard Gordon's plan to file a measure to clip the powers of the Justice Secretary but said that it should be crafted correctly.

I am in favor of that bill. We will look for that bill and try to push it, Escudero said.

He clarified that the point of the measure was not to necessarily limit the Justice Secretary's powers because they don't like the current chief but to prevent the chief from politicizing cases.

The senator also pointed out that it is common for the opposition to contradict the views of the incumbent Justice Secretary.

"When the late Sec. (Raul) Gonzales was DOJ Secretary, the opposition was also very mad at him. When Sen. (Leila) De Lima was DOJ Secretary, the opposition were mad at her too. Now, the opposition is also mad at Sec. Aguirre," Escudero said.

Aguirre II earlier said that plans to strip the powers of a justice secretary is unconstitutional.

"I believe that it is unconstitutional. You could not diminish the power of the President as the Chief Executive. One must remember that as the alter ego of the President, I am merely acting for and in his behalf," Aguirre said in an earlier text message.

He said that Gordon should first prove that the DOJ resolution is wrong stressing that their records show that the case was not proven to qualify as murder.

"They must first prove that the DOJ resolution is not the correct. No one has done that. The existence of evident premeditation in the case has not been proven to qualify the killing to murder. No one has discussed whether the downgrading is correct or nor; whether the same is supported by evidence and in accordance with law and jurisprudence, Aguirre said. (

Source: Philippines News Agency