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Hontiveros: Collusion between Aguirre, VACC the real issue

Sen. Risa Hontiveros calls Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II's filing of case against her as a "desperate attemp to deflect public attention away from his text conversation." Office of Risa Hontiveros/Released, File

MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Risa Hontiveros slammed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s filing of case against her as a "desperate attempt" to deflect attention from alleged collusion between the Justice chief and an NGO against her.

During the Senate hearing on the death of three teenage boys allegedly in police hands, Hontiveros asked to address the case filed against her by Aguirre earlier Monday morning.

The senator implored that the public not be swayed away from the real issue, which she said is Secretary Aguirre being caught “red handed” in plotting against her.

“This is the real issue here. Secretary Aguirre was caught conspiring,”  Hontiveros added.

Aguirre earlier cried intrusion of privacy when Hontiveros first revealed the photo of a text message exchange between Aguirre and a certain “Cong. Jing” last September 5. It was later revealed to be former lawmaker Jing Paras, a member of the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption.

The VACC is an NGO that has filed cases against personalities deemed critical of the Duterte administration.

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The VACC and Paras on September 25 filed wiretapping, kidnapping and child abuse raps against Hontiveros before the Office of the Ombudsman.

A week later, Aguirre, on Monday, filed three counts of violation of Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Act against her before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.

Hontiveros hit Aguirre’s filing of raps: “The cases desperate attempt to deflect public attention away from his text conversation.”

Weeks after Hontiveros revealed the text message exchange, Aguirre has yet to confirm nor deny its contents, but instead lamented that intrusion of his privacy.

Hontiveros, in a privilege speech, said that said that a member of the press “inadvertently captured a text message exchange on the screen of the phone of Aguirre."

She noted that 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.

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Hontiveros also pointed out that Aguirre filing the wiretapping complaint against her in aan office directly under his office is a clear case of “conflict of interest.”

She also said that it only proves the content of the message which was to “expedite the filing of cases” against her.

“Tapos na ang boksing. Bistong-bisto na po kayo. Tama na ang pagpapalusot. Panahon na para lisanin nyo ang posisyon,” Hontiveros added.

The Justice chief assured that the case against Hontiveros will be handled fairly, despite the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office being under the Department of Justice.

“It is the law that determines jurisdiction,” Aguirre said, adding: “What I could say is that the DOJ will treat these cases fairly and with justice so [she] has nothing to fear.

This is not the first time that Aguirre was asked to resign. Controversies hounded Aguirre’s helm of the DOJ, including the P50 million bribery scam that involved his fraternity brothers in the Bureau of Immigration and his “apparent” bias against now-detained Sen. Leila De Lima.

Aguirre has always reiterated that he continues to “serve at the pleasure of the president.”

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