MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros accused Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II of “squid tactics” and dared him to make good on this threat to sue her for exposing what she said was an alleged plot involving the Cabinet official to file charges against her.
Aguirre earlier protested what he called the violation of his constitutional right to privacy and the violation of the Anti-Wiretapping Act by Hontiveros and an unnamed photographer she said had “inadvertently” taken a picture of the screen of the Justice chief’s phone as he was texting a “Cong. Jing” during a hearing into the killing of senior high school student Kian Lloyd delos Santos by Caloocan police.
In a privilege speech in which she called on Aguirre to resign, Hontiveros said “Cong. Jing,” who she named as former congressman Jacinto Paras, texted Aguirre: “Naturuan na ni Hontiveros ang testigo (Hontiveros has coached the witness). Her questions are leading questions.”
To which Aguirre responded: “Yon nga sinasabi ko dito (That’s what I’m saying here). Very obvious. Kaya nga expedite natin ang cases niyo vs her (That’s why we must expedite your cases against her).”
The Senate minority has taken up Hontiveros’ call for Aguirre to step down.
Aguirre has not addressed Hontiveros’ allegations, protesting instead the “intrusion” and “blatant disregard” of his right to privacy.
“I am saddened, enraged, and more importantly, afraid of how our rights to the privacy of our communication can easily be disregarded and trampled upon,” Aguirre said, claiming he was “targeted.”
Thursday, Hontiveros issued a statement saying Aguirre “is desperately resorting to squid tactics rather than answering the accusations squarely lodged against him.”
“There is no violation of his privacy,” she maintained. “His 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. There was no reasonable expectation of privacy,” she added. “The law is clear. What is prohibited is willfully and knowingly committing any acts constituting wiretapping.”
“Secretary Aguirre is chasing a dead end,” Hontiveros said.
“But if the Justice Secretary wants to file cases against me, go ahead. See you in court, Mr. Aguirre,” she said.
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