Arrest warrant vs De Lima still a House option – Alvarez

STILL ON THE TABLE. Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says he will still wait for whatever action on the show cause order against Senator Leila de Lima that the House committee on justice will recommend him to do.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez maintained on Tuesday, November 29, that issuing an arrest warrant against Senator Leila de Lima is still an option for the House of Representatives. 

Alvarez made the statement on Tuesday, November 29, a day after House and Senate leaders met to discuss various issues, including the House justice committee's show-cause order against De Lima.

He was asked if House leaders agreed that they would no longer an arrest warrant against De Lima.

Wala akong naalala eh. Sabi ko nga sa ’yo, I always have that option. Ngayon, depende na sa committee chairman kung ano ire-recommend sa akin (I don’t remember anything like that. Like I said, I always have that option. Now, it depends on what the committee chairman recommends to me),” he said.

Congressmen have asked De Lima to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for advising former security aide and boyfriend Ronnie Dayan to snub a subpoena to attend the October 6 hearing into the narcotics trade at the New Bilibid Prison.

De Lima has been accused of coddling prison drug lords and using Dayan to collect drug money to fund her 2016 senatorial campaign.

De Lima had denied the allegation but Dayan had accused her of ordering him to collect money from alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa. He denied that he was on the take. (READ: A can of contradictions in Ronnie Dayan’s testimony)

Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas earlier said that should De Lima fail to respond to the show cause order, they may file the following against her:

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said that both houses of Congress on Monday  “agreed to avoid a possible confrontation between the two houses.” He said while it was the House's call to issue an arrest warramt against De Lima, he doubts this would happen considering the agreement. (READ: No arrest warrant vs De Lima? Senate, House agree to avoid clash

Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said the Senate leadership had also asserted that it cannot just leave a matter involving one of its members entirely at the discretion of the House panel. 

‘Why are you afraid to face us?’

De Lima herself said she will not make an appearance before her counterparts at the House, and called the congressional inquiry a "kangaroo court" out to fabricate allegations against her, and to humiliate her.

Alvarez, however, slammed De Lima and asked her why she was afraid to face the House panel.  

Alam mo, she can always argue. Ang tanong ko lang diyan, bakit takot kang humarap (You know, she can always argue. My question is, why are you afraid to face us)?" he asked.

Alvarez also noted that when alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa testified at the Senate hearing, De Lima opted not to ask questions to Espinosa which would have been "an opportunity to confront the accuser.”

Espinosa had alleged at the Senate probe that he gave De Lima P8 million through Dayan. Instead of asking questions, De Lima instead made a brief manifestation forgiving him for allegedly telling lies about her.

O bakit ayaw niyang i-confront? Eh baka mas marami pang lumabas. Lalo siyang madidiin (Why doesn’t she want to confront him? There might be more revelations. She might be further implicated), said Alvarez.

Some senators, especially those allied with De Lima, had slammed the show-cause order as it violates the priciples of inter-parliamentary courtesy. Under it, the House and the Senate do not interfere with the other’s affair. 

Both Alvarez and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the house justice committee, had argued that De Lima broke this courtesy when she advised Dayan to ignore the panel’s subpoena against him. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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