Umali testifies vs sorority sister De Lima in summons case

Lian Buan
Umali testifies vs sorority sister De Lima in summons case
Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali presents photos of De Lima's text messages to Ronnie Dayan's daughter

MANILA, Philippines – Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali on Friday, September 29, finally took to the witness stand to testify against his sorority sister detained Senator Leila de Lima in the disobedience to summons charges filed against the senator.

Umali presented to the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 34 on Friday photos of De Lima’s text messages to the daughter of former driver Ronnie Dayan, their primary evidence that De Lima had committed the crime of disobedience to summons.

In the text, De Lima told Dayan’s daughter Hannah Mae:  “Huwag mo siyang pa-attend… pagkakaguluhan lang siya…Pakisabi sa kanya magtago siya, magtago lang muna siya.” (Don’t let him attend…they’ll just make a show of us…Please tell him to go into hiding, to hide in the meantime.)”

The text messages were already presented before the House of Representatives, and photographed by the House photographer. Presenting this House photo would establish Umali’s personal knowledge of the crime.

De Lima’s lawyer Ted Rigoroso argued the photo would not stand unless the photographer testifies.

Umali insists his photo-evidence is very different from the case of Senator Risa Hontiveros who publicized a photo that inadvertently caught Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II texting former representative Jing Paras to “expedite the cases” against the Senator.

Paras has already filed a wiretapping complaint against Hontiveros.

Ang kaibahan nito, the information was volunteered no less than by Hannah Mae and Ronnie Dayan, so ‘yung consent was not there in the case of Vit Aguirre…si Hannah Mae mismo ang information,” Umali said. (The difference here is that the information was volunteered no less than by Hannah Mae and Ronnie Dayan, and the consent was not there in the case of Vitaliano Aguirre. Hannah Mae herself is the information source.)

The disobedience to summons case was filed against De Lima by Umali, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas. Umali and De Lima, both from San Beda, belong to the Lambda Rho Beta fraternity and Lambda Rho Sigma sorority respectively.

De Lima’s lawyers have earlier argued that the senator’s advice to Dayan, through his daughter, did not qualify as an act of inducing. 

“It is clear that Dayan decided to disregard the subpoena of his own volition and not because accused advised him to go into hiding,” they said in one of their motions.

In her interview before the hearing, De Lima said President Rodrigo Duterte should let the Office of the Ombudsman do its probe into his wealth.

Kailangan natin tuligsain yung threat na naman ng Pangulo sa Ombudsman. Yan na naman siya e. Nililihis na naman nya ang isyu. Harapin na lang niya yung akusasyon tungkol sa hidden wealth niya. Hindi yung tinatakot niya yung opisina, yung institusyon. He should respect the institution and its independence,” De Lima said.

(We need to condemn the President’s threat against the Ombudsman. There he goes again, he’s diverting the issue again. He should just face the accusations of hidden wealth. He shouldn’t threaten the Office, the institutuon. He should respect the institution and its independence.)

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on Friday told Duterte they will not be intimidated as they conduct their investigation. Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.