MANILA - The Senate minority on Tuesday said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should resign, backing Sen. Risa Hontiveros' call as they cited his alleged "unethical" acts.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and detained Sen. Leila de Lima, both former justice chiefs, along with Senators Bam Aquino, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV, said recent developments "highlight his (Aguirre's) unethical actions as a public official."
In a statement, the senators said they decided to take a stand against Aguirre on Aug. 30, citing "his propensity for spreading fake information," such as instances when he tagged individuals as "dilawan," a reference to the former ruling and now opposition Liberal Party.
"Now, he has been caught red-handed plotting against a sitting Senator during a hearing where he is supposed to be paying his utmost attention," the senators said.
"His actions signify a lack of competence for a man who holds the highest office on justice. His actions clearly violate the norms of conduct for public officials under the law," they added.
In a privilege speech Monday, Hontiveros said Aguirre has been using his position to harass opposition senators by threatening them with lawsuits.
Hontiveros showed a photo of Aguirre supposedly exchanging text messages with a certain "Cong. Jing," asking to "expedite" the filing of cases against her.
The “Cong. Jing” Aguirre was texting, said Hontiveros, could be Former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto “Jing” Paras, who she said is a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
"The Filipinos deserve better than a Cabinet official who resorts to spreading lies, sowing intrigue and to name-calling," the minority senators said.
"We need a Secretary of Justice who will uphold the highest standards of ethical conduct, integrity, and justice. Secretary Aguirre clearly does not fulfill these requirements," they added.
President Rodrigo Duterte chose Aguirre, his classmate and fraternity brother at the San Beda College of Law, to be his justice chief days after his victory in the May elections.
In February, Aguirre's appointment was confirmed by the Commission on Appointments despite Trillanes' objections.