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Justice chief wants Hontiveros ousted

By: Mario B. Casayuran

Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II yesterday sought the suspension or expulsion of Sen. Risa Hontiveros from the Senate for violating his constitutional right to privacy of communication.

Aguirre sought her ouster by filing an ethics complaint before the Senate Ethics Committee chaired by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto.

Aguirre said there was an apparent collusion between Hontiveros and a photographer, supposedly a member of media, when the latter took a photograph of the contents of his cellphone when he attended a Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee last September 5 on the killing of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos in Caloocan City last August.

“The unauthorized intrusion is not only unconstitutional, it is also illegal and partakes of a criminal act under the provisions of Republic Act Sat 4200, the Anti-Wiretapping Act,’’ he said.

Aguirre cited a statement of Christopher Malinao, a photography expert and lecturer, that the claim of Hontiveros that “the said photograph was inadvertently captured is a fantastic claim as I am 99 percent sure that it could not have been captured inadvertently.’’

“The narrowness of the focused area indicate shallow depth of field which can only be achieved by deliberately setting the camera, and the focus area indicates deliberate focusing on the text message. That the subject photograph was deliberately taken, carefully focused on the text message,’’ Malinao said.

‘’Thus, in my professional opinion, the good senator is not correct when she stated that the photograph was taken inadvertently,’’ he added.

Aguirre asked Hontiveros to prove him wrong by presenting all her “media persons,’’ the camera, or any contrivance they used in recording his private communications.

Hontiveros claimed the image in Aguirre’s cell phone showed him instructing a certain “Cong. Jing’’ to accelerate the filing of charges against her. She was apparently referring to former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras.