With Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II invoking the anti-wiretapping law, he may just be confirming that his text conversion where he plotted to expedite a case against Senator Risa Hontiveros was authentic, the senator said on Wednesday.
“By trying to skirt the issue with long statements and convoluted legal arguments, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre just confirmed to us all the authenticity of his text conversation caught inadvertently by somebody’s camera,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Why is the Justice Secretary invoking the Anti-Wiretapping Law? Is he admitting that the text conversation is real?” she said.
A day after Hontiveros called for Aguirre to resign, Aguirre assailed Hontiveros for making public a photograph of his supposed text exchanges with a certain “Cong. Jing” during the Sept. 5 hearing on the drug war killings.
The secretary said the opposition senator’s deed is not only unethical but a violation of the Constitution, which provides for a person’s right to privacy, and Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law.
According to the Justice secretary: “Text messages are private communications. Any unauthorized intrusion into such exchanges is illegal and betrays the Constitution.”
Zooming in on the photos will show Aguirre’s exchange of text messages with Cong. Jing, who Hontiveros said could be Former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who is a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). Paras’ message read: “Naturuan na ni Hontiveros ang testigo. Her questions are leading questions.”
Aguirre replied: “‘Yon nga sinasabi ko dito. Very obvious. Kaya nga expedite natin ang cases niyo vs her.”
(That is what exactly I’m saying here. Very obvious. That’s why we should expedite the cases against her.)
But Hontiveros retorted: “The Justice Secretary accuses me of indecency and being unethical. There is nothing more indecent and unethical than being caught red-handed plotting against a senator during a Senate hearing inside the Senate.”
“Mukhang kailangan magbuklat ni Secretary Aguirre ng dictionary at i-review kung ano ang kahulugan ng decency,” she said.
(Looks like Secretary Aguirre might want to check the dictionary and review what the exact meaning of decency.)
Hontiveros maintained that Aguirre’s privacy was not violated, nor there was no intent to tap or intercept his messages.
“What happened can simply be likened to overhearing a conversation by a careless person talking loudly in public. In this case, it was a text conversation, which was inadvertently caught by someone’s camera lens,” she said.
“I find it funny that some of his defenders say that the text conversation is fake. If that is the case, how can I or the person who accidentally took the picture be liable for “wiretapping” a fake text conversation?” she added.
The lady senator said Aguirre should not divert the real issue, which was his alleged connivance with certain individuals to file trumped-up charges against the members of the opposition.
“Clearly, Secretary Aguirre is shooting blanks. Pilit nagpapalusot. Sa hinaba-haba ng kanyang paliwanag, hindi niya masagot ang simpleng tanong, totoo ba o hindi ang text conversation kung saan nabisto siya na nakikipagkuntsabahan sa mga grupo para lutuin ang mga kasong isasampa laban sa oposisyon? That is the real issue here,” Hontiveros said. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.