Meet Miriam’s nemesis: Vitaliano Aguirre

Private prosecutor Aguirre articulates what the congressmen could not

MANILA, Philippines – Private prosecutor Vitaliano N. Aguirre II, 65, may look familiar to many because he was the lead counsel of Hubert Webb in the Vizconde murder-rape case.

As deputy counsel of the Feliciano Commission’s fact-finding investigation of the 2003 Oakwood mutiny, he was the same lawyer who conducted a direct examination of now Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and other mutineers in a televised hearing in Camp Aguinaldo.

He was also a lawyer of Sen Panfilo Lacson.

On Wednesday, February 29, Presiding Officer Juan Ponce Enrile cited Aguirre in contempt of court after he was caught on video covering his ears while Sen Miriam Defensor-Santiago was berating the prosecution panel. The senators will still meet next week to agree on the penalty.

Aguirre has never taken the podium for the prosecution panel, but he has been helping the teams in charge of Articles 1 and 7 of the impeachment complaint.

When asked to explain his gestures, Aguirre surprised the court—including members of the House panel—when he expressed his frustration with Santiago.

Standing up to Miriam

Aguirre dared to articulate what the prosecutors could not tell the court.

He said that in his 40-year career as a lawyer, this was the first time that he was lectured by a judge. He said what’s important is respect and dignity.

Lawmakers have long been hurting from the scolding they’ve been getting from the senator-jurors. Majority floor leader Neptali Gonzales II has been the most vocal about his opinion that the senator-jurors may be forgetting inter-parliamentary courtesy. 

Prosecutor Giorgidi Aggabao said the House panel was surprised. “We were all surprised. From where we were sitting—we were sitting at the back—we did not notice that. The whole time pala his two hands were on his ears,” Aggabao said.

Kasama natin sya sa prosecution, but I think it was uncalled for,” Aggabao added.

Will the prosecution panel punish Aguirre? “We have to decide. He is a member of the prosecution team. He is under our control. Definitely, we have to do something about it,” Aggabao added.

Agabao admits they were also hurt by Santiago’s language. “Kanina mabigat ang loob namain lahat sa utterances heard, but that is part of trial e,” said Aggabao.

According to his curriculum vitae, Aguirre is a managing partner at the Aguirre & Aguirre Law Firm.  He is a professor at the Arellano Law Foundation but is currently on leave. He is the president of Foster Realty Corp and director of Metro Cebu Public Savings Bank. – Rappler.com