Dispatch from Crame No. 173: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre’s Filing of Case Against Sen. Risa Hontiveros


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Aguirre filing a personal case against Sen. Hontiveros with an office under his direct control and supervision shows the extent of the perversion of the justice system under the Duterte regime.

The public prosecutor as hearing officer in the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint is under the direct control and supervision of Aguirre as Secretary of Justice. In a true sense, Aguirre will be the judge of his own accusation against Sen. Hontiveros. This is justice now in the Philippines, Aguirre-style.

In the first place, it was Aguirre who was caught – in plain public view during a televised Senate hearing no less – plotting against the Senator. Against all laws on anti-graft, ethics, and moral standards for public officers, Aguirre instructed former Cong. Paras to file trumped-up charges against the Senator, again, with his office.

Even setting aside ethical standards, Aguirre’s texted instruction to Paras was a blatant violation of R.A. No. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, because Aguirre gave unwarranted advantage and preference to Paras, a private party, in the discharge of his official functions through manifest partiality and evident bad faith. Aguirre should be criminally charged before the Ombudsman, and this offense added to the list of criminal acts he is already accused of in the complaint I filed with the Ombudsman.

Aguirre decries that his privacy was violated. The right to privacy does not extend to the cover-up of criminal conduct. Even if the text message displayed in large font on his cellphone in a public hall full of media cameras was private, its display in plain view in a public place does not make it inadmissible evidence.

Definitely it is not covered under the Anti-Wiretapping Law, because conversations overheard without the use of devices but merely out of the carelessness and stupidity of the conversing parties, is not wiretapping. More so, criminal conduct that is overheard, or witnessed in plain view, as what Aguirre exhibited in the middle of a public hearing, must be reported so that the criminal conduct may be prosecuted, as Aguirre should now be proceeded against before the Ombudsman as a matter of course.

Aguirre is not the victim here. He is the willing participant in a criminal enterprise. He is the principal by direct participation in the malicious persecution of Sen. Hontiveros by using all the power and influence of his official position as the Secretary of Justice. (Sounds familiar?) It is a blatant misuse and abuse of the powers of his office. This is the Secretary of Justice plotting the filing of trumped-up charges against a Senator, charges that he himself will pass upon by virtue of his official duties. And he was caught doing it in plain view of the public.

This is no different from someone sniffing shabu inside his car in a parking lot and getting caught by the security guard. The shabu-sniffer cannot claim that his right to privacy was violated. Under this government, people get shot in the head for such public displays of criminal conduct. But that kind of justice is only for the powerless. For the powerful like Aguirre, they don’t get a bullet in the head, and a cardboard saying “Abusadong Opisyal, Huwag Tularan”.

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