MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday criticized Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II's wiretapping complaint against Sen. Risa Hontiveros, calling it a "blatant misuse and abuse of the powers of his office."
In a statement, De Lima described Aguirre's move as abuse of power because the public prosecutor in the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint is under his supervision.
"Aguirre filing a personal case against Sen. Hontiveros with an office under his direct control and supervision shows the extent of the perversion of the justice system under the Duterte regime," she read.
"In a true sense, Aguirre will be the judge of his own accusation against Sen. Hontiveros. This is justice now in the Philippines, Aguirre-style," she added.
Aguirre on Tuesday filed a wiretapping complaint against Hontiveros for exposing his text messages with a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Aguirre condemned the incident, which he dubbed as a "shameless violation of a citizen's right to the privacy of communication." He also challenged Hontiveros to present the journalist who supposedly took the photo.
"The precise timing of the taking or shooting of the photograph, the accuracy of the detail of the image taken and the strategically chosen vantage point all indicate that the media person being referred to intentionally focused his camera or her camera and used the same with the intention to intercept and capture my private text message," he said.
De Lima said Aguirre should be the one criminally charged for violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act by conspiring to file trumped-up cases against Hontiveros with a private party, who is allegedly VACC legal counsel Jacinto Paras.
She added that Aguirre's text messages may have been private, but its public display is not subject to the Anti-Wiretapping Law.
"Definitely it is not covered under the Anti-Wiretapping Law, because conversations overheard without the use of devices but merely out of the carelessness and stupidity of the conversing parties, is not wiretapping," De Lima said.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, meanwhile, said Aguirre's move showed "arrogance."
"This filing of cases shows the arrogance of Secretary Aguirre and basically also shows the wickedness of the secretary just as wicked as his wig is. Aguirre has consistently delivered not just low blows but has delivered injustice to all Filipinos," he said.
Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao on Monday issued a similar statement and said the opposition is only doing its job.
"Ang tanging ginawa lamang ni Senator Risa ay ang pagbubunyag sa katotohanang may pagdidiin sa oposisyon-- na ang tunay na trabaho ay kilatisin ang administrasyon at tiyaking hindi naaabuso ang kapangyarihan. Baka nakakalimutan nilang nasa isang demokratikong lipunan tayo," she said.--With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News