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VACC to file contempt charges vs Robredo, LP senators

MANILA, Philippines – The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) will file contempt of court charges against Vice President Leni Robredo as well as senators Francis Pangilinan and Franklin Drilon.

VACC's lawyer Ferdinand Topacio told Rappler that they are now preparing a complaint against Robredo, Pangilinan, and Drilon, who have been vocal in opposing the arrest of their fellow Liberal Party (LP) member, Senator Leila de Lima. (READ: TIMELINE: De Lima – from drug probe to arrest)

Topacio said De Lima's allies continue to make statements that disrespect the court.

He said that Robredo, for instance, issued this statement: "These efforts to smear Senator De Lima are a strong indication that the charges against her arise from a political agenda and are not the result of an independent, unbiased legal process."

Pangilinan and Drilon have also labeled De Lima's arrest over drug charges as political persecution. (READ: De Lima's fate: Karma or political persecution?)

They echoed the arguments of De Lima's camp, saying the issuance of an arrest warrant was rushed because the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) has yet to hear the senator's motions to quash. (READ: Who is the judge who ordered De Lima's arrest?)

"They are insinuating that the court is biased even without grounds. That's improper conduct. Of course you can always criticize the court, but not in a disrespectful way," Topacio told Rappler in a phone interview.

The lawyer said they will file charges for violation of Section 3(d) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Civil Procedure which penalizes "any improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice."

Topacio added that De Lima may have committed forum shopping when she filed separate petitions before the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Forum shopping refers to the multiple filing of petitions or motions to increase the odds of a court ruling in one's favor.

If one is found guilty of forum shopping, it would constitute direct contempt of court and the multiple petitions or motions could be dismissed.

Topacio also said he is working on filing an ethics complaint against De Lima before the Senate. – Rappler.com

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.

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