Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra was appointed the new justice secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (April 5) hours after the president accepted the resignation of embattled Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, The Manila Times Online reported.
Aquirre had come under intense pressure to resign after he was accused of dismissing criminal charges against top drug suspects, Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co and Peter Lim. Sources told the Manila Times that he had lost the trust and confidence of President Duterte after a series of blunders.
In a news conference on Thursday, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte signed Guevarra’s appointment papers on Thursday.
Guevarra took up graduate studies in economics at the University of the Philippines after obtaining his BA degree, major in political science, at the Ateneo de Manila in 1974. He worked as staff economist at the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Philippines as he was taking law at the Ateneo.
Guevarra placed second in the 1985 Bar examinations. His first job as a lawyer was with the technical staff of the 1986 Constitutional Commission. He later joined a law firm and formed his own law partnership in 1990.
Guevarra returned to government service through his appointment as a member of the 2010 Philippine Truth Commission. He became deputy executive secretary for legal affairs of the Office of the President in May 2015 and commissioner of the Philippine Competition Commission in February 2016.
One of Aquirre’s critics in the opposition, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Aquirre’s resignation was a “hollow gesture”.
“Sorry, but too late the hero for justice zero. The damage is done,” said Hontiveros, adding “our justice system is now in shambles, with more and more people trusting it less and less.”