Aguirre: Intel reports, even if wrong, are not fake news

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Even after it was proven false, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is sticking to his claim that a photo tagging opposition senators in the Marawi crisis is not fake news.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Thursday, Aguirre said the information came from an intelligence report.

"Intelligence reports are news, not fake news, even if they're wrong," he insisted.

Aguirre said that he had clarified that the information he was presenting was "subject to verification," accusing the media of leaving this out in their reportage.

"The reporters are the ones not fair to me. They did injustice to me," he complained. "I told them that this is a raw intelligence report. I told them this is subject to verification, investigation. They never reported that."

In June, Aguirre came under fire for linking opposition senators Bam Aquino and Antonio Trillanes to the Marawi crisis. He presented a photo of a supposed meeting of opposition lawmakers, including Trillanes, with Maranao families two weeks before the siege broke out in May.

The photo was later traced to a Facebook post by Zamboanga Vice Governor Ace Cerilles, taken at the Iloilo Airport in 2015. Aquino was not in the photo.

Related: Justice Secretary tags opposition senators to Marawi crisis, Resorts World attack

Aguirre retracted his statement and slammed the media for misquoting him, prompting the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to defend their coverage.

"There was no misquotation. Your words were recorded on video and audio. So, no, you are not passing the buck on to reporters who did what they are supposed to do — accurately report your official acts and pronouncements," the NUJP statement read.

In July, two youth groups filed an ethics complaint against the secretary, accusing him of spreading fake news.

Related: Youth groups file ethics complaint vs. Justice Secretary for 'fake news'

Aguirre did not mention the source of the supposed intelligence report.


The secretary also slammed the "Fake News King" moniker attached to him by youth groups, calling it "very unfortunate and unfair."

Aguirre is just one of the administration officials accused of peddling fake news. Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson is also controversial for posting misleading information, while President Rodrigo Duterte himself admitted to making up an offshore bank account number supposedly owned by Trillanes.

Korean Mafia in Jee Ick Joo killing?

Aguirre also maintained previous claims that a Korean Mafia may be behind the killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo,  although this was previously refuted by the Philippine National Police.

"Just the other day, the Bureau of Immigration arrested a Korean who is supposed to be involved in this Jee Ick Joo killing, and he is being referred to the [National Bureau of Investigation] already," he said.

Investigators previously revealed Jee was kidnapped for ransom by rogue cops and strangled in the national police headquarters.