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Aguirre files raps vs Hontiveros

By JEFFREY G. DAMICOG

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II filed yesterday a criminal complaint before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office against Senator Risa Hontiveros for taking a photograph of his text messages.

Aguirre accused the lady senator of violating Republic Act 4200, the Anti-Wiretapping Act. The secretary also included in his complaint unidentified persons he only named as “John Doe” and “Peter Doe”.

Though the National Prosecution Service (NPS) is under the Department of Justice (DoJ), Aguirre believes there is no problem in the propriety in the filing of the case because “it is the law that determines jurisdiction.”

“After further study, I came to the conclusion that it is the civil courts and the National Prosecution Service that have jurisdiction over the cases because the offenses were committed when Sen. Riza was not in the performance of her official duties,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the DoJ chief assured prosecutors will handle his complaint with impartiality.

“What I could say is that the DoJ will treat these cases fairly and with justice, so Sen. Riza has nothing to fear,” he said.

Last September 11, Hontiveros accused Aguirre of plotting against her and members of the opposition and presented as proof a photo of a photograph of his private text messages with former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who is now working with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

The photo of the text message was taken during his appearance at the September 5 hearing of the Senate’s committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs.

Citing Section 1 of RA 4200, Aguirre said the law provides that it is “unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a dictaphone or dictagraph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described”

Aguirre also pointed out “the right to privacy of communication is a constitutionally guaranteed right under Article III of the 1987 Constitution.”

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