Move over, Miriam: Aguirre is their ‘new hero’

Ayee Macaraig
Friends and supporters of private prosecutor Vitaliano Aguirre troop to the Senate
MANILA, Philippines [UPDATED] – Family and friends of lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre hope to hear no evil from the Senate. 
Over 40 supporters of the private prosecutor who earned the ire of Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago showed up at the Senate on Tuesday, March 6, covering their ears and wearing ‘My New Hero’ shirts. They said doing the now infamous gesture is meant to show their support for Aguirre, whom the Senate cited in contempt of court last week. 
The group, mostly from Aguirre’s hometown of Mulanay, Quezon, gathered outside the Senate gate on Tuesday morning, just hours before a senators’ caucus that will decide his fate. (The senators eventually decided to merely admonish Aguirre.)

They were dressed in a shirt with a photo of Aguirre covering his ears printed in the front and in the back were the words, “Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre II, my new hero.” 

“Sa amin naman tama din lang ang ginawa niya,” said Aguirre’s sister, Noemi Aguirre-Garland. “Gusto niya ang talagang tama. ‘Yung mga sigaw-sigaw [ni Sen. Santiago] na parang hindi na nga tama kasi pare-pareho naman silang mga lawyers, parang bata kung magsalita siya.” (For us, what he did was right. He only wanted to do the right thing. It wasn’t right for Sen. Santiago to shout because they are all lawyers, she talked like a child.) 
Aguirre’s sister came with his nieces, classmates, and childhood friends. Edgardo Garin, Aguirre’s childhood friend, said the group is willing to support the lawyer no matter what penalty will be imposed on him. 
Kung may sinasabing all-out support, ibibigay namin iyon sa kanya. Kung kinakailangang matulog kami dito, matutulog kami dito,” said Garin. (There’s a saying about all-out support, we will give that to him. If we need to sleep here, we will sleep here.) 
Garin said the group brought clothes and supplies because they are ready for anything. 
‘Talented, righteous’

Garin described his friend as talented and righteous. 
“Simula sa pagkabata, kapag mali ang ginagawa naming mga kasamahan niya, cino-correct niya.” (Starting in childhood, if he saw that his peers were doing something wrong, he would correct us.) 
Garin said he understood his friend’s decision to stand up to Santiago last week. 
“May hangganan din kasi ang pasensya ng tao. Kapag kailangan ipakita na siya’y nasasaktan na talaga, every right thinking person ay gagawa ng paraan para ang kanyang message ay maipakita.” (There is a limit to a person’s patience. When he needs to show he is really hurt, every right thinking person will make a way to show his message.) 
Another friend of Aguirre, Isidro Puerte, had a message for Santiago:
Senator Miriam, ako po’y humahanga sa inyo. Sadya po kayo’y magaling pero pagminsan-minsan naman po, tingnan niyo ang dignidad ng tao. Tingnan niyo na sa inyong pagsasalita, hindi kayo makakasakit ng damdamin,” said Puerte. (Senator Miriam, I admire you. You are really brilliant but sometimes, I hope you consider the dignity of the person. See to it that when you speak, you don’t hurt the person’s feelings.)

On her Twitter account, @senmiriam had this to say about Aguirre’s supporters: “There were about 50 people, mostly from his hometown & from his office. I was selected by millions of Filipinos in the May 2010 elections, so I am not likely to be impressed by 50 people.” –

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