The sentiment on social media was harsh.
When Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre finally made good on his threat to sue Sen. Risa Hontiveros for wiretapping (and file an ethics complaint against her in the Senate), the man responsible for the administration of justice in the Philippines was ridiculed for indulging himself in such a patent and petulant act of injustice.
The musician-satirist-writer Lourd De Veyra spoke for many when he tweeted: “Parang nahuli mo si mister na tine-text ang kabit. Tapos siya pa ang galit.”
It’s like you catch the husband texting his mistress — and he’s the one who gets angry.
This, really, is an apt analogy for the situation in which Aguirre finds himself.
Caught conspiring with the administration’s political allies to legally harass the opposition senator — literally because he uses an extra-large font size on his smartphone and conspired in a public place where his message could be read with no difficulty — he takes umbrage and files cases against her.
He declines to file the criminal case for wiretapping with the Office of the Ombudsman, who is known to zealously guard her independence.
Instead, he files it with the Prosecutors Office — which reports to him. He comes up with an elaborate rationalization: “After further study, I came to the conclusion that it is the civil courts and the National Prosecution Service that have jurisdiction over the cases because the offenses were committed when Senator Risa was not in the performance of her official duties.”
But the reality is that this office takes orders from him.
The replies to De Veyra’s tweet offered other analogies: “He’s like someone caught in the act who won’t admit to anything even if you twist his neck — and then makes up his own stories.” Or: “He’s like a burglar who falls from the roof — and sues the owner of the house.”
The same idea was picked up in another part of the social media universe: “Aguirre is like a thief who injures himself inside the victim’s house — and sues the victim for damages.”
We can, we all can, add our own analogies to this list.
When the justice secretary himself openly, shamelessly, attempts to deploy the powers at his command to “get back” at the politician who exposed the conspiracy, the very nakedness of this abuse of power calls for something different, something both creative and absurd to drive home the ridiculousness of it all.
The scholar Bob Altemeyer reminds us that “a wannabe tyrant is just a comical figure on a soapbox unless a huge wave of supporters lifts him to high office.”
There is no wave of supporters to form a protective wall around Aguirre’s abuse of power; instead, there are more and more people who are pointing to a comical figure, and then make apt, relevant, truthful comparisons. For example:
Aguirre is like a bag snatcher who realizes that the bag he stole has nothing of value — and blames the owner of the bag for the lack of valuables.
Aguirre is like a spoiled child who tries to use another child’s toy without permission; when he is reprimanded, he grabs the toy and breaks it.
Aguirre is like a mugger who wounds himself with his own knife when the intended victim resists — and blames the victim for his injury (and insists that the victim pay for his medical expenses).
Aguirre is like a drunkard who lost his keys in the street, and goes to look for them under the lamppost, because that’s where the light is.
Aguirre is like a gatecrasher to a party who upon entering the house falls and breaks several bones — and then sues the celebrant who did not invite him.
Aguirre is like a philanderer repeatedly caught in the act, who berates his wife for daring to follow him to his assignations.
Aguirre is like a justice secretary caught planning to expedite a case against an opposition politician, who then accuses the politician of violating his privacy AND proceeds to expedite the case.
Wait. Aguirre IS a justice secretary caught planning to expedite a case against an opposition politician, who then accuses the politician of violating his privacy AND proceeds to expedite the case.