Drilon says Hontiveros is not liable for wiretapping Aguirre
Senator Risa Hontiveros cannot be prosecuted under the anti-wiretapping law because she did not infringe Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s right to privacy, Senator Franklin Drilon explained on Wednesday.
“Senator Hontiveros did not violate any provision of the Anti-Wiretapping Law, nor did she infringe on the right to privacy when she delivered a privilege speech last Monday,” Drilon said.
Hontiveros on Monday called for Aguirre’s resignation for plotting cases against her. The senator, in a privilege speech, presented photos of Aguirre texting, which were inadvertently taken by photographers during a Senate hearing on the spate of drug killings.
Zoomed-in photos showed Aguirre’s exchange of text messages with a certain “Cong. Jing.” Cong. Jing’s message read: “Naturuan na ni Hontiveros ang testigo. Her questions are leading questions.”
Aguirre replied: “‘Yon nga sinasabi ko dito. Very obvious. Kaya nga expedite natin ang cases niyo vs her.”
(That’s what I’m saying here. Very obvious. That is why we should expedite the cases against her [Hontiveros])
Drilon asserted that since the photos were unintentionally taken, it cannot be considered as surveillance.
The minority leader said that the sponsor and the legislators of the Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law intended to punish the interference or recording of private conversations, which amount to surveillance.
“It also bears saying that during the interpellations of the bill filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson expanding the anti-wiretapping law, the author clarified that his bill intends to expand the law to prohibit taking screen shots or still pictures of communications, which only means that currently, the act of taking screen shots or still pictures is not considered wiretapping,” Drilon stressed.
Hontiveros’ privilege speech was also covered by parliamentary immunity, the senator said.
“Supreme Court cases and deliberations of the Constitutional Commission are unequivocal on this point. The framers wanted to make sure that members of Congress can express their opinions, cast their votes without fear of previous restraint or subsequent punishment,” Drilon explained. /jpv
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