Palace mum on rumors Duterte will fire DOJ chief Aguirre

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Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has been under fire following the dismissal of graft charges against drug lords.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 4) — Malacañang said Tuesday President Rodrigo Duterte has not issued any statement on the fate of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre amid rumors he will be removed from the post.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message there is "no statement from (Duterte) to that effect."

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go also told reporters there has been no confirmation of Aguirre being fired.

"Wala pa [None yet]," Go told reporters Tuesday.

Rumors of Aguirre's removal from the Cabinet surfaced after presidential spokesman Harry Roque recently said the President is not happy with its members, hinting at a possible reshuffle.

Aguirre has been under fire after a series of controversial decisions from the Department of Justice (DOJ) involving the ₱50-million bribery scandal at the Bureau of Immigration, the admission of alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Naples to the Witness Protection Program, and the dropping of drug charges against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, alleged drug-lord Peter Lim, among others.

Duterte questioned why the case against Kerwin Espinosa was dismissed by state prosecutors when he personally admitted he was involved in the drug trade, adding that he will look into the dismissal.

But Aguirre earlier said he has talked to the President, saying that he could not feel Duterte perceives "a whiff of corruption" in the DOJ.

Should the President feel distrust over his performance, Aguirre said he is ready to leave his post.

"There's no reason why I should resign kasi wala naman akong kasalanan [I did nothing wrong]," he said. "If the President says so, o nakaramdam ako na kulang na ang pagtitiwala sa akin, mabilis pa sa alas-kwatro, resign tayo."

[Translation: If at the slightest I feel that the President has lost confidence in me, I will resign right away.]