Aguirre to file criminal, civil, ethics complaints vs Hontiveros
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday said he would file a barrage of lawsuits against Sen. Risa Hontiveros for violating his privacy when she divulged his cell phone text message exchange allegedly with a former congressman.
Aguirre said he would file four counts of violation of privacy of communication in the Sandiganbayan plus an ethics complaint in the Senate next week.
He also threatened to sue Hontiveros for damages.
He refused to comment on the text messages that were photographed and shown by Hontiveros during a privilege speech early this week.
“If I comment on the content of the text, that is irrelevant. I will not comment further. My point is simple: Did she violate Republic Act No. 4200?” Aguirre told reporters on Thursday on the sidelines of an international dialogue against human trafficking.
He was referring to the antiwire tapping law passed in 1965.
In her speech on Monday, Hontiveros showed a photo of cell-phone messages exchanged between Aguirre and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras.
She said the exchange showed that Aguirre ordered the group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which Paras is a member of, to build a case against her because they believed she was influencing the witnesses in the killing of 17-year-old Caloocan student Kian delos Santos.
Immunity vs suit
Aguirre said he would not comment on the text message itself, as Hontiveros wanted him to, because this “might be considered as a waiver of my constitutional rights.”
Invoking the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which guaranteed the right to privacy of communication, Aguirre said Hontiveros violated RA 4200 in four ways—her deliberate intent to take a photo while he was using his phone; taking the photo; sharing the private message with others; and divulging the text message during her privilege speech.
Aguirre said the immunity against suit covered by a privilege speech is limited to “speech and debate” and does not include additions such as the photo of his phone and text message.
‘See you in court’
Hontiveros has insisted she did not violate Aguirre’s privacy but said the justice secretary could “go ahead” and file his ethics, criminal and civil complaints.
“See you in court, Mr. Aguirre,” Hontiveros said.
“The shameful and deceitful text conversation was simply inadvertently caught by someone’s camera lens, thus, there was no intent to tap or intercept his messages,” she said in a statement.
“There was no reasonable expectation of privacy. The law is clear. What is prohibited is willfully and knowingly committing any acts constituting wiretapping. Secretary Aguirre is chasing a dead end,” she said.
Aguirre had confirmed his text conversation “by trying to skirt the issue with long statements and convoluted legal arguments,” she added.
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