The iPhone-stealing episode at the House has a lengthier history

May 30, 2018 - 5:22 PM
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DOLE undersecretary and former Negros Occidental representative Jing Paras was accused of "stealing" Akbayan representative Tom Villarin's iPhone. People speculated it might be connected to Paras' issue with Sen. Risa Hontiveros, Akbayan's former representative. (Art by Uela Badayos)

In a very peculiar turn of events, opposition Rep. Tom Villarin of the Akbayan party-list accused Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, of stealing his iPhone X inside the House of Representatives complex during a hearing.

The alleged incident of theft notwithstanding, Paras and Villarin are coming from some controversial history involving opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros.

Villarin said Paras was approaching him to say, “Kayo pala ni Senator [Risa] Hontiveros ang magkasama.” This is when, a closed circuit television footage suggetsts, Paras placed his phone on top of Villarin’s before picking up both phone and walking away.

What went before

Last year, Paras filed multiple complaints against Hontiveros in relation to the probe into Kian De Los Santos’ killing.

Paras is a member of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which had been filing cases against critics of the Duterte administration. The advocacy group has also fully supported the president’s brutal war on drugs.

Paras accused Hontiveros of “harboring” minor witnesses of the case, as well as exposing a text message of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III.

In this Sept. 11, 2017 photo, Sen. Risa Hontiveros shows a photo of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II’s phone screen during a privilege speech. (Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal)

The photo Hontiveros exposed was that of Aguirre texting a “Cong Jing,” purportedly Paras, and ordering him to speed up the filing of cases against the senator.

Aguirre neither confirmed nor denied Hontiveros’ exposé however, while Paras remained mum if he were the “Cong Jing” on Aguirre’s phone.

How it all ties up 

This history and the officials’ political ties did not escape social media users.

Gil Anthony Aquino, a junior associate at the Center for International Law, attempted to connect the issues as well.

Another user speculated that Paras might have “stolen” the phone because his cases against Hontiveros are not showing significant progress at the Office of the Ombudsman.

A Facebook user also called Paras the “BFF of Aguirre” and recalled how the two went against Hontiveros before.

MAY 29, 2018Undersecretary Paras, Inakusahan ni Congressman Tom Villarin ng PagnanakawDear Undersecretary Jing…

Posted by Celestino Alcos Jr on Tuesday, May 29, 2018

He wrote, “Dear Undersecretary Jing Paras, ‘di ba ikaw ‘yung nag-demanda kay Senator Hontiveros dati? ‘Yung BFF ni Aguirre?”

“May tanong po ako, member ba kayo ng Salisi Gang? Kasi po sabi ni Cong. Villarin of Akbayan kinuha niyo daw ang iPhone X niya na walang paalam.” — Art by Uela Badayos