Senator Risa Hontiveros has gone on the warpath after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II threatened to file a libel case against her.
Yesterday (Tuesday, March 20), Aguirre declared that he would sue Hontiveros after she called him a “peddler of fake news” and a “cook of fake cases”.
However, she today challenged him by asking: “Isn’t it true?”
And in a statement, she said: “Now it’s me he wanted to charge with libel, well in fact they are the proponents of malicious and degrading statements.
“If Mr Aguirre can’t take it, he shouldn’t dish it. Don’t be too sensitive, Mr Aguirre, when you are confronted with truth.”
Hontiveros then recalled past incidents when Aguirre had “manufactured and peddled fake news against the opposition”.
“He accused Senators Bam Aquino and Antonio Trillanes of plotting with the Maute terrorist group,” she said.
“The Justice Secretary even showed a photo of Senators Aquino and Trillanes supposedly meeting some Muslim leaders in Marawi. But it later turned out that the picture was taken in Iloilo City in September 2015,” she said.
The senator also recalled when Aguirre disclosed that “Senator Franklin Drilon and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas were implicated in a drug syndicate”.
“The accusation is so absurd that even Senator Panfilo Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, found it unconvincing,” she said.
Aguirre’s threat, the senator also said, was “nothing but a desperate attempt to divert the public’s attention away from his series of actions that undermined our pursuit of justice and accountability”.
“It is also part of an effort to sidetrack the growing public’s calls for him to resign,” she said.
“There is nothing new with the Justice Secretary’s plan to file a libel case against me. We already know that the filing of trumped-up charges is the strategy of Mr Aguirre to intimidate and harass the political opposition.
“With all due respect, it won’t work.”
Aguirre’s Department of Justice has recently been under fire after it was revealed that it dismissed criminal cases against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and 20 other alleged drug lords. The decision has apparently been reversed this week following public outcry.
It sparked further public outrage when it moved to place alleged ‘pork barrel scam’ mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles under provisional coverage of the witness protection programme.
Despite these controversies, Aguirre insisted yesterday that he still enjoyed the president’s trust.