Arroyo's justice minister resigns


  • AseanPlus News
  • Friday, 03 Jan 2003

MANILA: Philippine Justice Secretary Hernando Perez resigned yesterday after being hounded by allegations of corruption, President Gloria Arroyo’s spokesman said. 

Perez handed his resignation letter to Arroyo in a “very brief” meeting at the Malacanang Palace, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said. 

Perez, a close confidante of the president, totally rejected charges by a legislator that he took bribes totalling US$2mil (RM7.65mil). 

“Recent turn of events has unfairly subjected this administration and myself to undue stress which may put in danger all the gains this government has achieved,” Perez said in his resignation letter. “And this I will not allow,” he said. 

The resignation was with immediate effect “despite the fact that the charges hurled against me are false and baseless,” Perez said. 

Arroyo in November had granted Perez a 30-day leave of absence to allow him to clear himself of corruption charges by Philippine legislator Mark Jimenez, who has since been extradited to the United States to face fraud charges. 

Perez was to have returned to his post on Dec 26, but Arroyo had extended his leave for an indefinite period. 

Jimenez had alleged that Perez harassed him until he paid US$2mil in an overseas bank in exchange for a favourable decision on his extradition proceedings. 

Jimenez is facing charges of illegal election campaign contributions and tax evasion in the United States. 

 

The Justice Department will be in the care of acting justice secretary Merceditas Gutierrez until a replacement was found for Perez, Bunye said. 

Perez, a top lawyer who helped install her to the presidency when Joseph Estrada was deposed in a popular uprising in 2001, is the latest minister to leave the Cabinet. 

Arroyo in November removed Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez and Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor and in December sacked Economic Planning Secretary Dante Canlas. – AFP 

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