SENATOR Risa Hontiveros on Monday sought the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II after she reportedly received photos of the secretary’s alleged text messages to a former member of the House of Representatives giving him assurances that a case pending before the justice department against the opposition lawmaker would be expedited.
Hontiveros issued the call during a privilege speech where she also presented photos of Aguirre’s test message to a certain “Cong. Jing” which was accidentally photographed by photo-journalist covering the Senate’s Sept. 5 hearing on the spate of killings of suspected illegal drug pushers and users.
The photographs show Aguirre’s exchange of text message with “Cong Jing,” which Hontiveros believed to be former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras and now member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
According to Hontiveros the photographs were authenticated by experts. She, however, did not elaborate.
“Cong Jing’s” alleged text message to Aguirre read: “Naturuan na ni Hontiveros ang testigo. Her questions are leading questions” to which Aguirre is said to have replied: “Yon nga sinasabi ko dito. Very obvious. Kaya nga expedite natin ang cases ninyo vs her.”
Hontiveros said the witness that Aguirre was referring to could be “MC” who, during the Senate’s Sept. 5 hearing, testified seeing two Caloocan police officer kill Kian De los Santos last Aug. 16.
VACC Founding Chairman Dante Jimenez earlier accused Hontiveros of politicizing the slaying of De los Santos.
The VACC, represented by Paras, was also responsible for the filing of an impeachment complaint against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno before the House of Representatives.
“Is the DOJ secretary plotting a case against a sitting senator while a Senate proceeding is going on, right inside the Senate session hall?” Hontiveros said.
“Habang tayo ay naghi-hearing para makamit natin ang katarungan para sa isang 17-year-old na pinatay ng pulis na nakadapa sa lupa, mukhang ang pinagkakaabalahan ng ating Justice secretary ay paano makaganti sa kanyang kalaban,” Hontiveros said.
“Kung kaya ito gawin ng Justice secretary sa isang sitting senator, ano pa kaya sa ibang mga mamamayang Pilipino?” she added.
“The culture of political vindictiveness that allows Justice secretaries to make a mockery of justice springs from the same poisonous well as the culture of impunity that encourages policemen to plant evidence, fabricate stories about their targets, and become cold-blooded killers,” Hontiveros pointed out.
“Siya po ay nakikipagkutsabahan sa isang grupo para magsampa ng kaso – kaso na opisina din niya ang magpapasya kung may probable cause o wala,” Hontiveros lamented.
“There are no words, Mr. President, for this kind of lutong Macau. There are no words!”
Hontiveros specifically accused Aguirre of violating Section 4(b) of Republic Act 6713 (the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).
The provision of law cited by Hontiveros states that “Public officials and employees shall perform and discharge their duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence and skill. They shall enter public service with utmost devotion and dedication to duty. They shall endeavor to discourage wrong perceptions of their roles as dispensers or peddlers of undue patronage.”
Hontiveros said there is “no other respectable option but to call on the Justice secretary to resign.” Adding that Aguirre “undermines our justice system, and his continued stay in office is a vulgar insult to the Filipino people and our efforts for a more just society.”
Meanwhile, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday said he will file libel charges against Palace Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, broadcaster Erwin Tulfo and Ben Tesiorna for spreading fake news about his alleged offshore bank accounts.
“Within the next few days, pa-file-an ko ng kaso sila Mr. Erwin Tulfo, Ms. Mocha Uson at Mr. Ben Tesiorna. Kakasuhan ko sila ng libel,” Trillanes, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, said during a press conference at the Senate.
Uson, Tulfo and Tesiorna all allegedly posted in their respective social media accounts photos of Trillanes’ supposed offshore bank accounts.
Trillanes denied owning the accounts and issued a bank waiver opening them for scrutiny.