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Hontiveros' allegations vs Aguirre 'very naive,' says Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte chats with Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. PPD/King Rodriguez
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday downplayed the accusations hurled by Sen. Risa Hontiveros against Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, saying the lady lawmaker’s allegations are “very naive."
Hontiveros, in a privilege speech on Monday afternoon, said that a member of the press “inadvertently captured a text message exchange on the screen of the phone of Aguirre."
She noted that when zoomed in, the screenshot shows Aguirre exchanging texts with a certain "Cong. Jing" where the justice chief is said to be ordering the latter to hasten the case build-up against Hontiveros.
Speaking to reporters in a pre-dawn press conference, Duterte dismissed Hontiveros’ claims against Aguirre — which had sparked latest calls for the Justice Chief’s resignation.
“That is a very naive. Ayaw ko lang anuhin si Hontiveros. When two persons talk and you are not a party to it, do not draw conclusions of what they are talking about. For all you know, ang pinag-usapan ng mga g***, babae,” Duterte said.
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Asked if he had knowledge of the cases being prepared against Hontiveros or any members of the opposition, Duterte said: “Wala talaga akong alam diyan. I have been in Davao for the last two days kasi may mga commitment rin ako eh.”
Aguirre and Hontiveros have been trading barbed words when the senator took protective custody of the witnesses in the slay of Kian Delos Santos. Both have asked each other to inhibit from the two separate probes lodged before both the Department of Justice and the Senate, on the slay case of Delos Santos.
Early this week, Aguirre branded Hontiveros' statement as "unbecoming to a public servant."
"That a public servant will conveniently resort to the protective mantle of a privilege speech makes it more despicable and diabolical," Aguirre added.