PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday dressed down Senator Risa Hontiveros for making an assumption that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was plotting a case against her based on a photograph.
Duterte, in a chance interview in Taguig City, dismissed as “very naïve” the reaction of Hontiveros on Aguirre’s exchange of text messages with a certain “Cong. Jing.”
His statement came after Hontiveros called for Aguirre’s resignation after the Justice Secretary was photographed sending text messages to “Cong. Jing,” asking him to expedite the filing of cases against her.
Based on a photo inadvertently taken by a photographer, Hontiveros said Aguirre might be in touch with former Negros Oriental representative Jacinto “Jing” Paras to pursue charges against her.
Paras is a member of the pro-Duterte group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
The President said he was not aware of the conversation.
He, however, said Hontiveros should not assume that the text message was in reference to her.
“That is very naïve. I don’t want to [lecture] Hontiveros [but] when two persons talk and you are not a party to it, do not draw conclusions of what they are talking about. For all you know, the two fools might be talking about women,” he said.
On September 11, Hontiveros made public a photograph of Aguirre taken during a Senate hearing held September 5, showing the exchange of text messages between the Justice Secretary and “Cong. Jing.”
Cong. Jing, based on the photo, told Aguirre: “Hontiveros was coaching the witness. Her questions are leading questions.”
Aguirre’s reply was seen as, “That is what I’m saying here. Very obvious. That’s why let us expedite your cases against her.”
This prompted Hontiveros to demand Aguirre’s resignation from his post, saying that he “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.”
Responding to Hontiveros’ accusation, Aguirre said he would not step down from office as long as he enjoys Duterte’s trust and confidence.
“For as long as I enjoy the confidence of President Duterte who appointed me, I will continue serving as the steward of your DOJ (Department od Justice),” he said. (SunStar Philippines)