PRESIDENT Duterte sacked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday (April 5) by accepting his resignation. Surely, Cebu City Mayor Tomas’s shaming about the DOJ chief’s hair style was not the reason. Maybe Mayor Tomas’s accusation of abuse of power contributed to the cause. But it was just one of a series of black marks on Aguirre’s record.
Tomas is not beyond ridiculing physical attributes of his enemies but in taking a dig at Aguirre’s hair, he didn’t say outright that it is fake.
Media often fills the blank or connects the dots. In his first blast about Aguirre’s wig, Politico.com spelled it out with the March 18 heading, “Peke kasi ang buhok!” In his Facebook post yesterday, Tomas’s reference to Aguirre’s friendship with Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Mike Dino carried this line: “Friends of the same feather wig together...”
De Lima too
Mayor Tomas is surely not the first public official to make fun of Aguirre’s hair. Most notable was the direct, into-his-hair comment of Sen. Leila de Lima last Sept. 27, 2016 on the charges of drug trafficking filed by Aguirre against the senator.
The accusation, she said, is “like his toupee, his wig, fake and cosmetic...” Tomas stopped short of saying that about the DOJ chief’s threatened charges against the mayor: protecting a drug lord and accepting P7 million bribe money. But Aguirre was still on the threatening stage then, which he could no longer carry out now.
Vit’s hair styles
Look it up: a photo montage in September two years ago, created by Ivy Lisa F. Mendoza: It’s worse than just depicting Aguirre with a toupee; it’s Aguirre photo-shopped in various hairstyles, including women’s.
It ridiculed the wig thing and more: it suggested that the chief justice might have some penchant for women’s look, even possibly cross-dressing.
But Aguirre must have taken the teasing in good stride. No one has read about him suing Mendoza or anyone else for cyber libel. But he might, with their outlandish theory that cyber libel is a continuing crime and may be filed any time now and in years to come.
Risk of personal attack
The hazard of poking at a disability or deformity of, or lapse in judgment by, a public figure is that one also opens himself up to similar shaming. And the insult can be as low and gross as one can get.
When former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s daughter Chelsea in May last year publicly condemned President Duterte as “a murderous thug” who thrashed human rights, Duterte responded, “This presidential daughter, when her father was in the White House and screwed (intern) Monica Lewinsky, did Chelsea also slam her father?”
Ghosts of scandals
Aguirre was probably searching for chinks in Tomas’s armor, other than that affidavit of drug lord Jaguar Diaz’s bagman linking Tomas to the illegal drugs trade. He could still lash back at Tomas but no longer with the clout of a justice secretary.
He’d probably not suffer the fate of his predecessor de Lima, not while law school classmate Duterte would still be president. Yet even outside a detention cell, wig or without, Aguirre could still be haunted by the dubious decisions in DOJ that led to his ouster.