JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said his right to privacy was violated when Senator Risa Hontiveros revealed the content of his text messages during a privilege speech last Monday.
Hontiveros said Aguirre was photograph supposedly sending instructions to "Cong Jing" an alleged member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) to hasten the case build-up against her.
The photograph, she said, was inadvertently taken by a press photographer whom she refused to identify.
In a statement, Aguirre said the photograph is illegal, as it violates his right to privacy.
"I condemn to the highest degree this shameless violation of a citizen’s right to the privacy of communications," Aguirre said.
"I am saddened, enraged and more importantly, afraid of how our rights to the privacy of our communication can easily be disregarded and trampled upon," he added.
In a privilege speech on Monday, Hontiveros said Aguirre, while attending a Senate investigation into the death of Kian Delos Santos, supposedly sent text messages to a certain "Cong Jing."
In the text message, Hontiveros said Aguirre was ordering "Cong Jing," which she later on identified as former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto Paras, to hasten the case build-up against her.
She added that based on the photo, Paras was coaching the witnesses in the Senate probe.
Aguirre did not deny that he had sent the text message but claimed that he is being targeted by the media.
"Somebody, allegedly from the media, if he or she is really from the media, not only violated the express guarantees of our Constitution but also committed a crime when he or she targeted me," he said
He then challenged the media to come out if indeed his act was unintentional.
"To the supposed member of the media who evidently disregarded the privacy of my communications, if you do truly exist, I say shame on you!" he said.
"Let him or her who claim that the act was not intentional present himself or herself to prove it," he added.
Aguirre said the act of unauthorized prying into an exchange of private text messages and making it public, also without authority, is a violation of Republic Act 4200 or the Anti-Wire Tapping Act.
The Justice Secretary also hit Hontiveros for using the photograph to call for his resignation.
"Beyond the issue of legality is the issue of decency. Anybody who uses the fruits of an unconstitutional or an illegal act is bereft of decency," Aguirre said.
Aguirre reiterated he will not resign as long as he enjoys the full trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte. (SunStar Philippines)