Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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Hontiveros, Aguirre in strongly-worded exchange at Senate

Sen. Risa Hontiveros exchanges heated arguments with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II (foreground) during a joint committee hearing at the Senate. —EDWIN BACASMAS

It was a brief but strongly-worded exchange.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II finally confronted each other on Monday, weeks after she accused him of plotting to file cases against her over a controversial screen capture of his smartphone.


Both Hontiveros and Aguirre did not mince words on the issue during the resumption of the Senate hearing into the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos by the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

Committee chair, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, said he allowed the issue between Hontiveros and Aguirre to be tackled at the hearing because the senator’s privilege speech against the justice secretary on this subject was referred to his committee.


Right to privacy

From a prepared speech, Aguirre repeatedly slammed and accused Hontiveros of violating his right to privacy and in retaliation filed an antiwiretapping case and a complaint against her before the Senate ethics committee for her “unethical and unparliamentary conduct.”

For her part, Hontiveros made it clear that the issue here was his conversation plotting to file cases against her.

The justice secretary was referring to Hontiveros’ privilege speech last Sept. 11 where the senator showed a picture of him looking at his phone and upon its enlargement, the screenshot captured his conversation allegedly with former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, which she said involved plotting against her.

Paras is a lawyer of the pro-Duterte Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.

The picture was taken during the Sept. 5 hearing on the De los Santos’ killing inquiry and where “Cong. Jing” had told Aguirre that Hontiveros had apparently coached the witness there. Aguirre responded by telling Cong. Jing to expedite the filing of cases against her.

At the hearing, Aguirre insisted he was “targeted” contrary to Hontiveros’ claim that the photo was taken inadvertently.


“I was singled out and it was premeditated,” he said.


The justice secretary said he had filed a complaint against Hontiveros as well as “John Doe and Peter Doe” for violating the Anti-Wiretapping Act in the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office, an agency under the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Aguirre defended his move, arguing that the National Prosecution Service of the DOJ was the appropriate office to handle his complaint.

Reading from a statement, Hontiveros said the cases Aguirre filed against her was a “desperate attempt to deflect public attention” away from the text messages which she stressed was “the real issue here.”

Meanwhile, Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao has lambasted Aguirre’s criminal complaints against Hontiveros as yet another example of the government’s “Leilanization” against the opposition.

“After they detain Sen. Leila de Lima, now they’re going after Sen. Risa. Is this because Sen. Risa took the witnesses to the killing of Kian delos Santos under her wing to ensure their safety?” Bag-ao asked.

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