Female senators slam House probe ‘in aid of misogyny, voyeurism’

Camille Elemia
Female senators slam House probe ‘in aid of misogyny, voyeurism’
(UPDATED) 'It was not an investigation in aid of legislation. It was a public lynching in aid of misogyny and sexism,' says Senator Risa Hontiveros


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Female colleagues of Senator Leila de Lima backed her against the “unparliamentary,” “misogynistic,” and “insulting” conduct of lawmakers during Thursday’s continuation of the House probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison. (READ: Lawmakers feast on De Lima-Dayan love affair)

What was supposedly an investigation on De Lima’s alleged role in the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary ended in a show about the senator and his former security aide and alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan’s romantic affair. (READ: ‘Kailan kayo nag-climax?’: Nonsense questions at the Bilibid drugs hearing)

Senator Grace Poe said the House probe was marked by “national voyeurism.”

Senator Nancy Binay criticized the line of questioning, saying it was “malicious and insulting.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros, an ally of De Lima, said the House hit “the lowest of the low” for its “unparliamentary” acts. She called on Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to “rein in” House members.

‘Malicious, insulting, unparliamentary’

Speaking at a business forum on Friday, November 25, Poe spoke about what happened at the Thursday, November 24 hearing held by the House committee on justice.

“Just yesterday, during a congressional investigation, a lot of the questions were geared towards voyeurism – national voyeurism as opposed to ‘in aid of legislation.’ And this is quite upsetting,” Poe said.

“We understand that a lot of things have to be investigated but I think that the details of certain personal affairs should not have been discussed,” Poe added.

Binay shared the same sentiment, saying the probe did not focus on De Lima’s alleged drug links but on insulting her for her personal affairs.

“It’s quite saddening that the manner of questioning focused on the personal and private life of Senator De lima. Even the choice of words were downright malicious and insulting,” Binay said.

“Kung meron mang personal doon sa naging mga pahayag ni dayan, di dapat lumihis ang mga tanong sa angle ng drugs,” she added.

(Given there were personal aspects in Dayan’s statement, the lawmakers shouldn’t have deviated from the main angle of drugs.)

Hontiveros said the probe was meant to “humiliate” De Lima.

“It was not an investigation in aid of legislation. It was a public lynching in aid of misogyny and sexism. The intention was clear.”

“Members of the committee were grossly unparliamentary. Their derogatory line of questioning did not aim to shed light on the issue of the drug trade in our prisons. They were meant to humiliate and shame Senator De Lima for her association with a certain man, or her past relationship,” she added.

The acts of the so-called “honorable” elected leaders since the probe began in September have “reinforced” the culture of sexual harassment against women, she said.

Speaker Alvarez earlier approved the showing of the alleged sex video of De Lima at a House probe. After being criticized, however, the chamber stepped back but still allowed witnesses to narrate and describe the private affairs of the senator. (READ: De Lima ‘revolted’ by ‘sex video’ talk at House probe)

“If they are confident that they have real and tangible evidence against Senator De Lima, then let the evidence speak for itself. That is the only way for the Lower House to recover from this plunge into new and unparalleled lows,” Hontiveros said.

On Thursday, Filipinos were virtually brought to the bedroom once shared by De Lima and Dayan. Prying into the affair, male lawmakers asked how the relationship started, how much they loved each other, what they did, where they went. The public criticized lawmakers for their improper line of questioning.

De Lima cried foul, calling the hearing a “spectacle of lies,” as she lamented how Dayan, someone she loved and trusted, betrayed her. 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and senators from the Liberal Party have urged their counterpart lawmakers to follow the principle of inter-parliamentary courtesy. (READ: LP senators hit show-cause order, ‘disrespect’ vs De Lima)

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte first publicized the love affair of De Lima and Dayan. He accused De Lima of having a hand in the illegal drug trade in the NBP during her term as justice department chief. The President also alleged that Dayan facilitated the narcotics trade as the senator’s bagman. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com