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NBI tapped to probe destabilization plot

Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate reports that members of the opposition have been involved in a destabilization plot.

Aguirre issued Department Order (DO) No. 385 dated June 7 directing NBI Director Dante Gierran to do the task.

In his order, the NBI is “directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the alleged destabilization plot against the government of the Republic of the Philippines by some senators and other opposition leaders, and if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate cases against those who may be found liable.”

DoJ Assistant Secretary Juvy Ramirez-Manwong said DO No. 385 was issued immediately after the June 7 morning press briefing of Aguirre when he disclosed reports that Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, former presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV met in Marawi City on May 2 with influential Moro clans, including the Lucman and the Alonto, prior to the attack of the Maute terrorist group.

During the June 7 briefing, Aguirre briefly showed reporters a picture of the alleged meeting which included Alejano, Trillanes, Llamas, former Pampanga Governor Mark Lapid, and former Zamboanga del Sur Vice Governor Ace Cerilles.

However, the same photo also appeared in the Facebook account of Cerilles, but it was posted on September 4, 2015 at the Iloilo International Airport.

Aguirre has issued an apology for dragging the names of Aquino as well as the Alonte and Lucman clans.

In a statement issued yesterday, the DoJ said: “What he did was to swiftly flashed one picture on his cellular phone, but he did not allow the media to take pictures of the same precisely because the same is pending verification.”

The DoJ reiterated Aquino doesn’t seem to be present in the May 2 meeting in Marawi City as its stated that “upon further verification, Secretary Aguirre was able to establish that Sen. Bam Aquino went to Marawi City on May 19, 2017 upon invitation of Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong to promote the Go Negosyo Program.” (Jeffrey G. Damicog)