Paras denies allegation, calls charges 'malicious'
MANILA (UPDATE) - Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said Tuesday he filed theft charges against Labor Undersecretary Jacinto Paras for allegedly stealing his Apple iPhone X.
Villarin alleged that the theft happened during a congressional hearing last March.
The Akbayan lawmaker said Paras approached him with a phone and a power bank. The labor official then greeted him and placed his phone on top of Villarin's phone.
When Paras left, he allegedly took Villarin's phone with him, as confirmed by CCTV footage.
The video also revealed that Paras left Villarin's phone in one of the hearing rooms at the House of Representatives.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Paras, a former Negros Oriental representative, denied the allegations and insisted he could not have stolen a lawmaker's phone.
He admitted that he may have accidentally taken Villarin's phone together with his own things as he was asked by his staff to move to the other side of the room.
"Posible na nasama ko 'yung kaniyang cellphone (It's possible I accidentally took his cellphone with mine),” Paras said.
“It must be an accident. I cannot even say na totoo 'yung dinala ko (that it's true that I took it). Kung totoo man 'yan, unang-una (if it's true, first of all), I will say sorry to him," he added.
He also denied looking at the contents of Villarin's phone.
"Sinasabi nila na baka binuksan ko ang cellphone niya (They are saying I may have checked his phone). That is very unlikely... And normally tayo naman hindi tayo makakabukas ng cellphone (we can't just check a phone)," he said.
Paras added that it was just the first or second time he met Villarin and he has no interest in his things, much less his cellphone.
Paras said the filing of the case two months after the incident was malicious. Still, he said he is ready to face the charges as he is confident Villarin could not prove his intent to steal.
"I was just surprised. If it was March, why did it take a long time to accuse me? There must be some malicious intent dito (here)," Paras said.
-- with reports from Robert Mano and April Rafales, ABS-CBN News