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Aguirre dares Hontiveros to name photographer behind ‘conspiracy’ text

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre testifies at the Senate hearing on Tuesday (January 31) at the Senate Building in Pasay City.  PNA/Avito Dalan

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday challenged Sen. Risa Hontiveros to name the photographer who took the alleged text message ordering the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption to build a case against her.

Aguirre said the real issue is not the content of the supposed text message but Hontiveros’ violation of the Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act. He wants the senator to prove that taking a photo of his phone’s screen was not intentional.

“Kung totoo pong inadvertent puwede po bang i-name ninyo yung photographer at titignan natin pati 'yung kanyang mga camera at kung anumang nilalaman ng camera na iyan para mapatunayan ninyo na kayo ay in good faith at ‘di niyo sinadya, hindi ninyo pinagplanuhan ang pagkuha [sa] aking cellphone messages,” Aguirre said at the third hearing into the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos.

READ: Opposition says charges vs Hontiveros a case of political harassment

The justice secretary early Monday filed three counts of wiretapping complaints against Hontiveros after the senator said a member of the media “inadvertently captured a text message exchange on the screen of the phone of Aguirre” during the second day of the hearing into Delos Santos’ death.

The photo of the text message exchange between Aguirre and a certain “Cong. Jing,” believed to be former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras of VACC, supposedly indicated that the two are plotting to file cases against Hontiveros.

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READ: Hontiveros: Text message reveals Aguirre ordered VACC to build case against me

Hontiveros claimed she had the photo verified with the experts and determined that it was authentic.

Aguirre, who refused to confirm if the text message was real, repeatedly cried intrusion of privacy and said Hontiveros’ alleged photo is inadmissible in court.

“Iyan po ay ‘di niyo maaring gamitin sapagkat yan po ay inadmissible. It is as if it's nonexistent,” Aguirre said.

The justice secretary added that commenting regarding the supposed text message might be construed as a waiver of his right to raise the fact that it is inadmissible evidence.

Paras also filed wiretapping, kidnapping and child abuse raps against Hontiveros before the Office of the Ombudsman last September 25.

To her defense, Hontiveros said the real issue is the alleged collusion between the Justice chief and the VACC against her.

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