Vitaliano Aguirre gets slap on the wrist for ‘hear no Miriam’
For committing what his nemesis, Senator Miriam Santiago, said was “a galactic act of epal,” or a publicity-seeking hound, volunteer prosecution lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre II got away with only a slap on the wrist.
Santiago said she had no problem with the penalty meted out Tuesday on Aguirre, who cupped his ears with his hands as she slammed the prosecution last Wednesday for suddenly announcing it was dropping five of the eight articles of impeachment and was resting its case against Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada had called attention to Aguirre for being “very disrespectful” to the Senate impeachment court.
But in a magnanimous display of sobriety, Santiago told reporters she accepted the apology that Aguirre offered in interviews with radio and TV networks earlier in the day. He repeated an earlier statement that he was sorry for causing the senator discomfort but was standing by his position that lawyers deserved respect.
“Justice has been done and honor has been satisfied… If he offers an apology, it would be uncivil of me to refuse it,” said the former trial judge who had been berating the prosecution chief, Representative Niel Tupas Jr., and calling his panel a bunch of fools (gago).
Aguirre said he was “very happy that only a light penalty was imposed” against him. “This will pave the way for the impeachment court to focus on its main agenda, whether to convict or acquit… Corona.”
Santiago said the admonition to Aguirre, announced following a caucus, was “the correct penalty.”
“It is not punitive or vindictive and I agree, particularly if (Aguirre) shows the proper spirit of contrition which apparently he did this morning by apologizing (in media),” the senator said in an impromptu news conference.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto said the decision to simply admonish Aguirre was reached within “two to three minutes” during the caucus that also discussed other matters related to the impeachment trial. Santiago was not present at that time.
In a news conference, Enrile acknowledged that Aguirre’s act “may be considered contemptuous of the court” but senators decided “simply to admonish” him “to be more careful henceforth.”
Still, Santiago who suffered from an elevated blood pressure of 140/90 Tuesday afternoon could not help but take jabs at Aguirre.
“It was a galactic act of epal,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. She added that should she suddenly fall dead during her news conference, her next of kin should be advised to “donate her organs to that lawyer who apparently needs them.”
Santiago let out a loud guffaw when asked if the package would include her brain.
Lesson for epal
The senator also said she was “underwhelmed” by Aguirre’s 50 or so townmates from Quezon who showed up at the Senate gates to show their support for him.
“I was elected by millions of people in the May 2010 elections so I am not likely to be impressed by 50 people,” she explained.
“That epal lawyer really had to be taught a lesson… He had a little prepared speech and he was completely defiant. That’s the best way to send a judge to the funeral parlor,” Santiago noted.
After the Aguirre incident last week, Santiago said she went home and proceeded straight to the basement and “hit my punching bag until it fell to the floor.”
Afterward, she ran to her room on the second floor, “set the Jacuzzi to get a massage and after that, I just fell straight asleep. I have been asleep for the last three days.”
Originally posted: 2:39 pm | Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
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