In a very peculiar turn of events, opposition Rep. Tom Villarin of the Akbayan party-list accused Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, of stealing his iPhone X inside the House of Representatives complex during a hearing.
The alleged incident of theft notwithstanding, Paras and Villarin are coming from some controversial history involving opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
Villarin said Paras was approaching him to say, “Kayo pala ni Senator [Risa] Hontiveros ang magkasama.” This is when, a closed circuit television footage suggetsts, Paras placed his phone on top of Villarin’s before picking up both phone and walking away.
What went before
Last year, Paras filed multiple complaints against Hontiveros in relation to the probe into Kian De Los Santos’ killing.
Paras is a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which had been filing cases against critics of the Duterte administration. The advocacy group has also fully supported the president’s brutal war on drugs.
Paras accused Hontiveros of “harboring” minor witnesses of the case, as well as exposing a text message of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III.
The photo Hontiveros exposed was that of Aguirre texting a “Cong Jing,” purportedly Paras, and ordering him to speed up the filing of cases against the senator.
Aguirre neither confirmed nor denied Hontiveros’ exposé however, while Paras remained mum if he were the “Cong Jing” on Aguirre’s phone.
How it all ties up
This history and the officials’ political ties did not escape social media users.
What a coinkydink that
to pick up the phone of Rep. Tom Villarin, who
to be partymates with Sen. Risa Hontiveros who
to catch Paras and former DOJ Sec Aguirre plotting against her via text. pic.twitter.com/G2OneEftRX
— alt sarah (@lakwatsarah) May 29, 2018
Gil Anthony Aquino, a junior associate at the Center for International Law, attempted to connect the issues as well.
DOLE USec Jing Paras is from VACC (Volunteers Against CRIME and Corruption), was behind complaints vs "Destabilizers" Comm Andy Bau and Dep. Omb. Carandang.
He was caught on CCTV stealing an opposition Congressman's phone during a legislative session.
You cannot make this up.
— Gil Anthony Aquino (@_gilanthony) May 29, 2018
He was also the textmate of former SOJ Aguirre during the Senate hearing on Kian. Aguirre was caught texting him to expedite the cases vs. Sen. Hontiveros. Aguirre then complained that he was a victim of "wiretapping" and that his Human Right to privacy was being violated.?
— Gil Anthony Aquino (@_gilanthony) May 30, 2018
Another user speculated that Paras might have “stolen” the phone because his cases against Hontiveros are not showing significant progress at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Siguro pong magkatext sina Villarin at Hontiveros, pareho silang Akbayan. Palibhasa, hindi umuusad ang complaint ni Paras laban kay Raisa sa Ombudsman. Wala naman kasing konkretong basehan. Halos lahat po ng complaints niya nung nasa VACC pa siya, hindi naman umusad.
— budge&nudge (@budge_nudge) May 29, 2018
A Facebook user also called Paras the “BFF of Aguirre” and recalled how the two went against Hontiveros before.
MAY 29, 2018Undersecretary Paras, Inakusahan ni Congressman Tom Villarin ng PagnanakawDear Undersecretary Jing…
He wrote, “Dear Undersecretary Jing Paras, ‘di ba ikaw ‘yung nag-demanda kay Senator Hontiveros dati? ‘Yung BFF ni Aguirre?”
“May tanong po ako, member ba kayo ng Salisi Gang? Kasi po sabi ni Cong. Villarin of Akbayan kinuha niyo daw ang iPhone X niya na walang paalam.” — Art by Uela Badayos