Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin has filed a theft complaint against former congressman and now Labor Undersecretary Jacinto "Jing" Paras for allegedly stealing his phone during a hearing at the House of Representatives in March.
In his complaint-affidavit filed before the Office of the Prosecutor in Quezon City, Villarin charged Paras with theft under Article 308 of the Revised Penal Code.
According to Villarin, he was attending a public hearing of the Committee on Labor at the De Venecia Hall when Paras approached him and told him, "Kayo pala ni Senator [Risa] Hontiveros ang magkasama."
Villarin and Hontiveros belong to Akbayan.
Villarin said while he was engaging in small talk, Paras placed his phone on top of his phone, an iPhone X placed on top of his table.
Paras allegedly picked up both phones from the table and proceeded to Zulueta Hall in the same building, Villarin said, adding it was during this moment that he noticed his phone was missing.
Villarin said he asked his staff to call his phone, and after several tries, it was answered by a member of the Legislative Security Bureau (LSB). The phone was left at Zulueta Hall.
Villarin then requested the LSB for a copy of a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage to see how his phone ended up at Zulueta Hall.
According to Villarin, the CCTV footage clearly shows that Paras was holding two phones.
DOLE Sec. Jacinto Paras, inireklamo ni Akbayan Rep. @tomvillarin ng pagnanakaw sa QC prosecutors office dahil tinangay umano ang kanyang cellphone (photo taken from HoR CCTV) @dzbb pic.twitter.com/7jkO7O32Mr— Rowena L. Salvacion (@wengsalvacion) May 29, 2018
Reacting to the complaint, Paras denied he stole the lawmaker's phone.
"Bakit ko naman nanakawin yung cellphone niya? [Isasangkalan] ko yung buong reputation ko at buhay para manakaw lang yung cellphone niya?" Paras told reporters in a phone interview.
Paras explained that at the time, he was hurrying to move to Zulueta Hall to attend the hearing of the Committee on Mindanao Affairs when he "must have lifted" Villarin's phone.
"Hindi ko alam na nadala ko yung cellphone niya. I have moved to another room. So probably I have left it there pagkatapos nung nagsalita ako doon. Nung paalis na ako, hindi ko alam na nadala ko pala yun, tapos pagkaalis ko, naiwan ko siguro doon [sa Zulueta Hall]," he said.
Trying to get info?
Villarin, in a media forum, said it was clear that Paras was trying to get information from his phone, which he said may be used against Hontiveros.
Paras in September 2017 filed multiple criminal charges against Hontiveros with the Ombudsman for disclosing his supposed text messages with then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and for allegedly exploiting minor witnesses in the probe of Kian delos Santos’ killing.
"Yes, possibly that's the main motive why he wanted my phone, to get information," Villarin said.
Villarin said there was no reason for Paras to take his phone, as he was "not even a personal acquaintance."
He also pointed out that even if Paras accidentally took the phone, he did not return it to him nor to the authorities.
"Kung talagang nagkamali siya, dapat sinagot niya. Nagri-ring eh, pero hindi sinagot, iniwanan lang. Kung hindi sa kanya 'yun, he could have answered [the call] and said, 'Sorry, nadampot ko lang.' Pero walang ganun," he said.
Paras formerly served as representative of the first district of Negros Oriental and is affiliated with the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News