Latest blog articles
Hontiveros labels Aguirre 'areglo king,' calls for his inhibition from Kian case
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, labeling Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II "areglo king," called for his recusal from the case of Kian Loyd Delos Santos. Risa Hontiveros/Released, File
MANILA, Philippines — A word war has erupted between Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday after the lawmaker asked the justice chief to inhibit from the investigation into the death of a senior high school student in Caloocan City last week.
In response, Aguirre said that he had no problem with recusing himself from the probe provided that the senator would also inhibit herself from Senate investigations in which her credibility was also under question.
Hontiveros, who has labeled Aguirre “fake news king of Padre Faura,” this time called the justice chief “areglo king” for allegedly trying to shield cops from a harsh penalty arising from the killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos along a dark alley in their rundown neighborhood in Caloocan City.
The senator also rejected calls for her to turn over the custody of the three witnesses she was holding to the Public Attorneys’ Office or the Department of Justice. The custody of the three witnesses, two of whom minors, has been transferred to the Senate early Friday, according to Hontiveros.
“Sa diwa at interest ng impartiality at pagsulong ng hustisya, I demand na si justice secretary ay mag-inhibit sa lahat ng mga imbestigasyong ginagawa sa pagpatay kay Kian,” she said. “Nanawagan din ako sa kalimhim na itigil ang pagyaya na pumailalim sa kanyang departamentong witness protection program ang mga saksi.”
“Kung ilalagay pa sa kalinga ni Secretary Aguirre ang mga saksi para na nating hinatid ang mga tupa sa lion’s den,” Hontiveros said in a media conference at the Senate.
Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1
The call for Aguirre to recuse himself from the probe came after he suggested that the credibility of the witnesses in the custody of Hontiveros and Caloocan Bishop Pablo David would be put to question.
He said that child witnesses were susceptible to “suggestions and brainwashing,” calling on the senator to immediately hand the custody to his department.
Aguirre, in separate hearings at the House and the Senate, said that the death of the teenager had been “blown out of proportion” and was “isolated.”
Hontiveros is one of the vocal critics of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and in the past has called on the government to develop a more holistic approach to the problem.
Aguirre said in response to the call of Hontiveros: “I have no problem with that. But she should also inhibit on Senate investigations and other matters where her fairness and impartiality are under question.”
Hontiveros said that Aguirre’s statement and actions seemed designed to weaken the case against the three Caloocan cops alleged to have slain Delos Santos.
“Hindi po natin hahayaan na i-undermine nila ang kredibilidad ng mga saksi, pahinahin ang mga kaso at limitahan ang level of accountability sa iilan lamang na mga abusadong pulis dahil mukhang ang fake news king of Padre Faura ay areglo king na rin,” she said.
She added that she would not allow the case of Delos Santos to end up like the case of former Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa who was shot dead by policemen serving a warrant in the wee hours of the morning.
The cops involved in that case have already returned to service following the order of Duterte and the downgrading of charges against them from murder to homicide.
The senator also supported the call of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to allow the Office of the Ombudsman to take over the case to ensure an impartial investigation. Drilon, a former justice secretary, also accused Aguirre of trying to lawyer for the cops.
“Ang Ombudsman ang may mandato para imbestigahan ang mga kaso ng mga maling gawain nga mga public officials. Sa mga susunod na araw ay hahanapin po naming ang mga legal na paraan upang pilitin ang justice secretary na mag-inhibit sa kasong ito,” she said.
Aguirre himself in the past has been severely criticized for issuing “overblown” statements based on spurious information especially on social media.
In the past, he was slammed for accusing some politicians of complicity in the Marawi siege based on information from the internet.