Senators to act on House ethics complaint vs De Lima

Camille Elemia
Senators to act on House ethics complaint vs De Lima
Senator Panfilo Lacson goes to the extent of saying that De Lima clearly broke rules when she advised Ronnie Dayan to skip a House probe

MANILA, Philippines – Unlike in the first 2 complaints, the Senate committee on ethics and privileges said it has jurisdiction over the 3rd complaint lodged against Senator Leila de Lima for allegedly interfering in a House probe.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, chairperson of the ethics panel, and Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chairperson, said this on Monday, December 12, the same day that House leaders, all allied with the administration, went to the Senate to file a complaint against De Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: House leaders file ethics complaint against De Lima)

“In that case, jurisdiction is no longer an issue because the allegations are [committed] during her term as senator,” Sotto said.

It’s clear to Lacson that De Lima violated laws and rules when she “advised” her former security aide Ronnie Dayan to skip the House hearings into the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison.

Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code penalizes any person “who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official.”

“Malinaw may jurisdiction. Pangalawa, klaro na may infraction, na pre-judged,” Lacson said. (It is clear that we have jurisdiction. Second, it is clear that there was an infraction, pre-judgment.)

With this, the issue now boils down to the kind of penalty that would be imposed on the senator. Under Senate rules, the chamber may censure, suspend, or expel a member with a two-thirds vote of all senators. (READ: Only 2 senators reprimanded by Senate in 30 years)

“Tingin ko pag-uusapan na lang penalty based on the evidence so far naipresent kasi inamin naman nya na binigay nya advice. Sabi nya advice lang pero nasa law na di lang naman coerced kundi induced,” Lacson said.

(I think the discussion will focus on the penalty based on the evidence so far presented because she already admitted giving advice. She said it’s just advice but the law also covers those acts that “induce” not just “coerce.”)

Fairness?

Sotto vowed he would be fair in handling the issues against the senator, even as he voted for her ouster as justice committee chairperson. (READ: Ethics complaint vs De Lima? Issues of the ethics committee)

“I’ve said that before I will say it again. I will always be impartial. If you cannot be impartial, as chair of ethics, you better resign,” Sotto said.

The House leaders complained about De Lima’s “unparliamentary” acts for dismissing the congressional inquiry as “sham” and “kangaroo court.”

They also said De Lima violated Article 150 of the RPC for urging Dayan to shun the House hearings. The House leaders also alleged that De Lima violated Congress’ rule governing inquiries in aid of legislation for her “undue interference” in the conduct of the proceedings.

A vote of at least 4 of 7 ethics members are needed for the complaint to prosper or be dismissed, Sotto said.

Aside from him and Lacson, the other members of the committee are Senators Gregorio Honasan, Grace Poe, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Escudero, and Manny Pacquiao.

Ex-officio members include Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Minority Leader Ralph Recto.

Lacson and De Lima had a bitter past, as the former justice secretary launched a manhunt against him in 2011 for being implicated in the murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and driver Emmanuel Corbito.

Pacquiao is a staunch ally of President Duterte, who has linked De Lima to illegal drugs. He has so far echoed all of Duterte’s stand on key issues.

Hontiveros and Drilon are allies of De Lima in the Liberal Party.

Honasan, Poe, and Escudero belong to the same bloc, as they are known allies of Sotto. 

The committee is also set to dismiss the 2 complaints against De Lima, as it said the panel has no jurisdiction on the alleged drug links of the senator because it was allegedly committed when she was still justice chief. (READ: Senate ethics body torn on how to handle complaint vs De Lima– Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

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