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Aguirre won’t quit post, mulls raps vs Hontiveros
In a statement yesterday afternoon, Aguirre again said that he serves at the pleasure of President Duterte and would only resign from his post if the Chief Executive no longer trusts him. Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, File
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has rejected the call of Sen. Risa Hontiveros for his resignation after he allegedly plotted the criminal indictment of the opposition senator.
In a statement yesterday afternoon, Aguirre again said that he serves at the pleasure of President Duterte and would only resign from his post if the Chief Executive no longer trusts him.
“Let me say for the nth time that for as long as I have the trust and for as long as I enjoy the confidence of President Duterte who appointed me, I will continue serving our people as the steward of your DOJ,” he stressed.
“You can call on me to resign, no one is stopping you, but only the President can accept my resignation,” Aguirre pointed out, in response to Hontiveros’ call.
Aguirre instead turned the tables on Hontiveros, one of the most vocal critics of the Duterte administration, and bared his plan to file cases against her and other individuals responsible for the taking and releasing of the photograph of his text exchange supposedly with former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto Paras.
“I am considering all my options. I could file criminal, civil and administrative cases against all persons responsible,” Aguirre revealed in a text message.
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He said among those he is eyeing as respondent in the cases is a media practitioner who reportedly provided Hontiveros with the photo.
Aguirre explained that the public release of his conversation violated his constitutional right to privacy and also the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
“Text messages are private communications. Any unauthorized intrusion into such exchanges is illegal and betrays the Constitution,” he stressed.
He cited Article III Section 3(1) of the 1987 Constitution, which provides that “the privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise, as prescribed by law.”
Aguirre said it was also a “flagrant violation” of the Anti-Wiretapping Act.
“Any text or sms exchanges in our mobile phones which are part of our private communications, apparently are no longer private and safe... No secrets. No privacy. No sanctity. No respect,” he said.
Aguirre lamented how he cooperated with and attended the Senate inquiries out of highest regard and respect for the Senate as an institution, but it turned out to be a venue for violation of his rights.
“I am sad because the people who violated my right to privacy of communication and the people who subsequently trumpeted it, did so in the very hallowed halls of the Senate itself,” he said.
In a speech Monday, Hontiveros called for Aguirre’s resignation for allegedly plotting to file a case against her.
As proof, she showed a photograph of Aguirre’s mobile phone capturing an exchange of text messages with a certain “Cong. Jing” whom she identified as Paras.
Senators support Risa
The members of the Senate minority bloc joined Hontiveros in her call for Aguirre to resign due to his unethical actions as a public official.
In a statement, the minority bloc, which is composed of Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Antonio Trillanes IV, Leila de Lima and Hontiveros, noted that Aguirre was caught red handed “plotting against a sitting senator during a hearing where he is supposed to be paying his utmost attention.”
They recalled asking for Aguirre’s resignation last Aug. 30 due to his propensity for spreading fake information on politicians he tagged as “dilawan.”
Back then, Aguirre had to apologize more than once for the spread of such fake information against members of the political opposition.
“We reiterate our call for Vitaliano Aguirre to resign from his post as secretary of justice. This recent development once more highlights his unethical actions as a public official,” they said.
“His actions signify a lack of competence for a man who holds the highest office on justice. His actions clearly violate the norms of conduct for public officials under the law,” they added.
The senators said that Filipinos “deserve better than a Cabinet official who resorts to spreading lies, sowing intrigue and to name-calling.
“We need a secretary of justice who will uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity and justice. Secretary Aguirre clearly does not fulfill these requirements,” they said.
Trillanes said that he agreed that Aguirre should resign because of his accumulated offenses.
He recalled how Aguirre linked him and other members of the political opposition to the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which was proven to be false.
“He’s been burned so many times. But this one takes the cake. It goes at the heart of his job as secretary of justice,” Trillanes said.
Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde assured the people that there is no pattern in the killing of drug suspects during police operations in Metro Manila.
Albayalde issued his reaction following the revelation of Hontiveros in a recent Senate hearing that there appears to be a pattern in the killings of suspected drug pushers and users during police operations.
Hontiveros made the allegations because of reports that the suspects fought back during police operations despite being armed only with homemade guns. – With Non Alquitran, Marvin Sy