MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin filed a complaint against Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras for allegedly attempting to steal his iPhone X worth P74,000, an accusation that Paras denied.
On Tuesday, May 29, Villarin sent reporters a copy of the complaint he filed a day earlier against Paras before the Office of the Prosecutor in Quezon City.
Prior to being appointed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Paras was a former lawmaker. He is also a lawyer who is currently a member of the Duterte-allied Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption. (READ: From 'Gang of Five' member to VACC lawyer: Who is Jacinto 'Jing' Paras?)
He is also being considered to replace Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III if the latter is appointed as the next Ombudsman.
In his complaint, Villarin said Paras had approached him during the House labor committee's hearing at the De Venecia Hall of the House of Representatives on March 20.
Screenshot by Villarin
Villarin said he did not know Paras personally, but the latter greeted him by saying, "Kayo pala ni Senator [Risa] Hontiveros [ang] magkasama (You and Senator Risa Hontiveros are colleagues)."
While engaging in small talk with Villarin, Paras allegedly placed his cellular phone on top of Villarin's iPhone X, which was on top of the lawmaker's table.
Screenshot from Villarin
Villarin said Paras then picked up both cellular phones from the table, left the De Venecia Hall, and proceeded to the Zulueta Hall on the second floor.
Screenshot from Villarin
The lawmaker soon realized his phone was missing and asked his staff member to call his phone. After a few rings, Villarin's phone was answered by a member of the House Legislative Security Bureau (LSB) who was at the Zulueta Hall.
The security officer found Villarin's phone on top of the table Paras had occupied at the Zulueta Hall.
Villarin was able to present 4 screenshots from the closed-circuit television footage taken inside the De Venecia Hall to support his statements.
"It should also be emphasized that, even assuming the cellular phone was taken by accident, the Respondent neither returned it to the Complainant nor to the local authorities. Instead, he abandoned it on top of the table he was occupying in another room of the same building," said Villarin.
"Considering the foregoing, it is respectfully submitted that the Complainant has adduced sufficient evidence to establish that probable cause exists to indict the Respondent for theft, as defined in Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code."
In a separate press conference, Villarin said one of Paras' possible motives may be to snoop on his conversations with Hontiveros, his party mate at Akbayan. Both are opposition lawmakers.
Paras, however, denied Villarin's accusation.
"Tom Villarin's accusation against me is incredible. I have not stolen his cellphone. This accusation is malicious and has political color," Paras said in a text message to Rappler.
"The possibility is, when I placed my phone on the table when I was talking with Villarin, and when I lifted my phone, I must have accidentally lifted his phone also and I proceeded immediately to another hearing at the second floor by the committee on Mindanao affairs," he added.
"When I finished my testimony there, I lifted my phone again and I must have left the phone of Villarin there, which was found by the security and turned over to his staff. I have not stolen his phone because I have no intent to gain from taking it."
Read a full copy of Villarin's complaint against Paras below: