MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a criminal case against Senator Leila de Lima for “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully” advising her former security aide and alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan not to testify during the House inquiry into the New Bilibid Prison narcotics trade.
The December 15 complaint by DOJ Assistant State Prosecutor Vilma Lopez-Sarmiento was received by a Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court on Wednesday, December 21.
According to the DOJ, De Lima violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code, which refers to the “disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions.”
The DOJ said Dayan “deliberately failed to obey” the subpoena issued by the House of Representatives because De Lima “willfully, knowingly, and unlawfully advised him through his daughter Hannah Mae Dayan, to hide and not to appear in the said scheduled hearing of the House Committee on Justice despite receipt of the subpoena.”
‘Rush to crucify’
In a statement on Wednesday, De Lima said that while her office received a copy of the earlier resolution of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) which stated there was probable cause to charge her, she has not yet been given a copy of the complaint.
The senator also cited erroneous news reports which said she had been charged with obstruction of justice under Presidential Decree No. 1829.
“I am in the difficult and lamentable position of standing publicly accused without even knowing what the allegations against me are,” she said.
“This rush to crucify me publicly through inaccurate press releases and statements, even before allowing me the chance to learn about the charges against me and to prepare my defense, speaks loudly and clearly of the real motivation behind the filing of this case,” added De Lima.
Denouncing House leaders
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House justice committee chairperson Reynaldo Umali are among the witnesses in the case.
De Lima again denounced them, saying the case was merely a bid to “save the House leadership from embarrassment for failing to link [her] to the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, and for shaming itself by engaging in rumor-mongering, slut-shaming and voyeurism.”
In a Rappler Talk interview, Alvarez said they filed the complaint because De Lima disregarded longstanding tradition of inter-parliamentary courtesy, wherein both houses of Congress do not interfere in each other’s affairs. – Rappler.com