MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday defended his remarks made at a rally of supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend.
Aguirre has been taken to task by some senators for asking the crowd who they want the government to run after next after Senator Leila de Lima, who is now in jail for drug charges.
“Trillanes!” the crowd shouted back, referring to staunch Duterte critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
Responding to criticisms over his remarks, Aguirre said the senators were “making a mountain out of a molehill”.
“Alam mo ung mga ganyan, political rally un eh. Para namam silang kwan. Parang entertainment lang ‘yun,” Aguirre said.
“Wala na silang sense of humor.”
In a statement, Senator Grace Poe said Aguirre’s behavior during the rally was not appropriate for someone who holds a sensitive post in government.
Poe said, Aguirre's job is to “administer justice fairly and not to moonlight as a perya barker who agitates the crowds.”
Trillanes, meanwhile, also said he was not surprised with Aguirre's apparent threat.
He likened Aguirre to Pontius Pilate for asking the crowd who they want to be jailed next.
“Parang si Poncio Pilato. Malapit-lapit pa naman ang Mahal na Araw,” Trillanes said.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, described Aguirre’s remark as “highly regrettable” and “dangerous."
“Highly regrettable mga ganyang actions ng secretary dahil hindi naman dapat kina-crowdsource ang susunod na hakbang dapat ng isang opisyal ng gobyerno,” Hontiveros said.
“Mapanganib ang ginagawa ni secretary. Nag-cultivate ng isang lynch mob mentality. Dapat mo maalala sana ni secretary ang pagkakaiba ng prosecution tsaka persecution.”