MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez were supposed to take the witness stand on Wednesday, April 26, against detained Senator Leila de Lima, but the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) cancelled the hearing due to the senator's motion for reconsideration.
De Lima had been arraigned for the disobedience charges filed by Alvarez, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali over allegations she influenced former driver Ronnie Dayan to snub a congressional hearing on illegal drugs last year.
De Lima's chief of staff, lawyer Fhillip Sawali, told Rappler in a text message that Branch 34 Judge Ma. Ludmila De Pio Lim cancelled the hearing because of the senator's motion for the court to reconsider her plea to drop the charges.
Sawali said none of the congressmen were available to attend the hearing on Wednesday.
In her motion, De Lima insisted that the QC court does not have a jurisdiction over her. She used the same arguments for her drug charges in saying it's only the Sandiganbayan that can handle cases filed against her.
De Lima also picked on technicality because according to her, the lawmakers were private complainants, and thus, were not authorized to charge her for disobedience.
For texting Dayan's daughter to say she should tell her father not to attend the hearing before the House of Representatives, De Lima was charged for violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes an individual who disobeys a summon from authorities, or the individual who restrains a person from obeying a summon from authorities.
De Lima noted that the offended party in an Article 150 case should be Congress or any of its committees.
"The fact that the private complainants are officers of the House of Representatives does not ipso facto authorize them to institute a case against the herein accused," De Lima's motion read.
De Lima said that as in past cases instituted by a congressional body, there should have been a formal resolution that authorizes the filing of a suit.
"Nowhere in the duly published Rules of the House of Representatives did it grant the private complainants the power to institute a criminal case on behalf of the House of Representatives," De Lima said.
De Lima's lawyers said the senator's advice to Dayan, through his daughter, did not qualify as an act of inducing. De Lima was reported to have texted Dayan's daughter: "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.)
De Lima also said that during the House hearings, Dayan told lawmakers that he snubbed the summons because he feared for his safety. "It is clear that Dayan decided to disregard the subpoena of his own volition and not because accused advised him to go into hiding," the motion said.
The next hearing is schedule on June 9 pending the resolution of the motion for reconsideration. De Lima's lawyers had previously said that the senator will be her own witness in the proceedings. – Rappler.com