MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Embattled Senator Leila de Lima slammed the appearance of her former aide and ex-boyfriend Ronnie Dayan at the House justice committee hearing on Thursday, November 24, calling the inquiry a “spectacle” full of lies.
The hearing, supposed to be an inquiry into the proliferation of drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when De Lima was justice secretary, also probed into the senator’s past relationship with Dayan.
Lawmakers asked questions with sexual undertones, and often broke into laughter as Dayan responded to them. (READ: Lawmakers feast on De Lima-Dayan love affair)
“I did not watch the entirety of my public hanging. It’s a spectacle that diverts us from more important national issues, and I don’t believe I am one. But soon, I will face my detractors,” said De Lima in a statement on Thursday.
“As a woman, it breaks my heart that my private life and personal relationship have become subject of the public and Congress’ ridicule,” she also said.
“No woman, whoever or whatever she may be, whether a sitting senator or a humble secretary, deserves to be betrayed, to be treated with so much disrespect and without dignity, before the public eye, by any man she is with or had a relationship with.” (READ: Netizens on Dayan, De Lima questions: ‘Papa Jack’, ‘crossing the line’)
De Lima reiterated that allegations she benefited from the drug trade are false.
“I refuse to indulge my accusers by addressing their web of lies and desperate attempts to implicate me as a corrupt public servant,” said the senator.
De Lima also pointed out that witnesses who have spoken against her have inconsistencies in their testimonies. (READ: Dayan, Espinosa: Who’s telling truth on drug money for De Lima?)
“The glaring inconsistencies of statements from all ‘witnesses’ in the House inquiry to this Bilibid Prison drug trade conspiracy speak for itself,” she said.
“It is a shame that those I trusted fell into the trap of power, deceit, fear and intimidation that they found it necessary to lie and twist truths to save themselves.”
Facing congressmen, Dayan again claimed that he received drug money for De Lima from alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. (READ: Ex-aide, boyfriend: I got Espinosa drug money for De Lima)
Dayan also told the House justice committee that De Lima previously advised him to skip the hearings as lawmakers would only make a show of them. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said this supposed move by the senator is tantamount to “obstruction of justice.”
The House panel has issued a show-cause order to De Lima, asking her to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for telling Dayan not to participate in the inquiry.
De Lima’s fellow senators from the Liberal Party denounced the show-cause order, saying it violates the principles of inter-parliamentary courtesy.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, Senator Francis Pangilinan, and Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, in a joint statement, also called the behavior of several lawmakers “unparliamentary.”
“The disrespectful and condescending line of questioning – which at one point seemed to justify an act of domestic violence – has no place in the halls of Congress,” they said.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte first accused De Lima of facilitating the drug trade at the NBP.
Duterte and De Lima have long been at odds. De Lima, as former head of the Commission on Human Rights under the Arroyo administration, pursued the investigation of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) in Davao City that reportedly was created by then Davao City mayor Duterte.
Duterte has since run after her, blasting her for her supposed affairs, links to drug lords, and alleged corruption. The senator was eventually ousted as chairperson of the Senate committee on human rights, days after she presented whistle-blower Edgar Matobato, who linked Duterte to the DDS.
De Lima has fought back, filing a test case before the Supreme Court against Duterte, who, as president, is immune from suit.
Women’s groups also threw their support behind De Lima, accusing the President of harassing her. (READ: Women’s groups back De Lima, hit Duterte’s ‘sexist harassment’) – Rappler.com