Guevarra confirms documents shred prior to Aguirre’s exit

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JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra — PCOO.GOV.PH

By Dane Angelo M. Enerio

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra on Monday confirmed that documents were shred, as reported prior to the resignation of his predecessor in the Department of Justice (DoJ), Vitaliano N. Aguirre II.

Mr. Guevarra was sought for comment following a statement by Mr. Aguirre also on Monday, saying in part, “I did not order any of my personnel to shred documents during my last day in the office at the DoJ. If any shredding was done, I know nothing about it.”

Mr. Aguirre made his statement in response to a “news report” that he did not duly cite but nevertheless described as “downright malicious.”

He added: “Assuming, for the sake of argument that it was true, what is wrong with shredding papers when what were shredded were already considered waste?”

“The shredding could have been done to prepare the office for the incoming Justice Secretary. We can even surmise that it was done to get rid of unneeded or unwanted documents. In fact, shredding of documents is being regularly done in public and private offices,” Mr. Aguirre also said.

Sought for comment on Mr. Aguirre’s statement, Mr. Guevarra said in a text message “we’re still looking into the matter, including what documents were disposed of and who gave the instruction to dispose.”

Asked if there were any documents shred, Mr. Guevarra’s text reply went, “yes.”

Also sought for comment, Justice Undersecretary Erickson H. Balmes said, “(S)a office ko po as Undersecretary hindi kami nag shred ng anuman (In my office as Undersecretary, we did not shred anything).”

He added: “In the first place po, sira po shredder sa office ko po (In the first place, the shredder in my office is destroyed).”

Meanwhile, a staff member of Undersecretary Reynante B. Orceo said in a message forwarded to reporters, “(N)ot even one page of document was shredded from (our office.)”

Mr. Guevarra in an address on Monday morning said the DoJ was “suffering from a huge image problem,” adding that he will make it his “personal mission to restore the DoJ’s dignified image.”

The DoJ, toward the end of Mr. Aguirre’s watch, came under public scrutiny, following the provisional admission of alleged pork barrel-scam mastermind Janet L. Napoles into the agency’s Witness Protection Program and the dismissal of drug charges against self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa and several other high-profile drug personalities.