Aguirre seeks at least ₱10 million in damages vs. Hontiveros

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The secretary said he would "not be baited" into discussing the content of his controversial text message.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is not backing down on cases against Senator Risa Hontiveros.

"Definitely it should be substantial," Aguirre told CNN Philippines' The Source of the suit he will file against Hontiveros.

When asked what he considered substantial, Aguirre replied, "At least 10 million."

"I'm going to reserve my claim for damages against her, so I'm going to file it not in Sandiganbayan but before the Regional Trial Court so it will move faster," he added.

The secretary and senator went head to head after Hontiveros called out Aguirre for plotting against her. She presented a photograph of Aguirre's text message caught on a camera by an audience member during the Senate hearing on the killing of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos last September 5.

Related: Senator calls on Justice Secretary to step down amid threat of cases

Aguirre was caught telling a certain "Cong. Jing": "Kaya nga expedite natin ang cases ninyo versus her (This is why we need to expedite your case against her)." The person with whom he was conversing was supposed to be former Negros Oriental Representative Jacinto "Jing" Paras of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

Aguirre accused Hontiveros of violating his right to privacy and Republic Act No. 4200, or the Anti-Wiretapping Law.

The law prohibits the interception or recording of private communication or spoken word through "tapping any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement."

Related: Justice Secretary slams senator: My right to privacy was violated

Aguirre is looking at filing criminal, civil, and ethics cases against Hontiveros "by next week," he said.

"I'm going to file three counts of violation of Republic Act 4200 against Sen. Hontiveros before the Sandiganbayan... And then I'm going to file next week an ethics case against her before the committee on ethics of the Senate," said Aguirre.

He also disputed Hontiveros' defense that the photo was taken inadvertently.

"If that is the defense of Senator Hontiveros, I challenge her: Produce the photographer. Produce the video, and we will see. I'm sure 100 percent that it will show that it was taken purposely," said Aguirre.

The secretary also said he would "not be baited" into discussing the content of his message.

DOJ won't handle VACC case vs. Hontiveros

Aguirre also maintained that any case against Hontiveros would not be handled by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

When asked if he wanted the VACC to file a case against her, he replied, "Somebody told me that they were planning. So they plan and they have some evidence. They file it."

"Besides it will not be filed before the DOJ because the exclusive jurisdiction for that is the Sandiganbayan and so it will never be filed before the DOJ," said Aguirre.

"If it will be filed before the DOJ, we're just going to refer it back to the Ombudsman," he added.

The Sandiganbayan is the special anti-graft court, while the Ombudsman files and prosecutes cases against government officials.

In a statement released on September 14, Hontiveros said Aguirre's privacy was not violated as there was no intent to intercept his messages nor was there "reasonable expectation of privacy."

"Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre is desperately resorting to squid tactics rather than answering the accusations squarely lodged against him," said the senator.

"(He) is chasing a dead end. But if the Justice Secretary wants to file cases against me, go ahead. See you in court, Mr. Aguirre," she said.