Harry Roque files indirect contempt charges vs party mate

MANILA, Philippines – The internal strife in the Kabayan party list continues as lawyer Harry Roque filed indirect contempt charges against fellow Representative Ron Salo and Lea Cabarrubias, Salo’s chief of staff

Roque filed the case before the Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday, February 1, but a copy was sent to the media on Friday, February 3.  

Roque and Salo, Kabayan’s representatives at the House, have been locked in a legal dispute since December last year. 

In his latest complaint, Roque argued that Salo and Cabarrubias violated the confidentiality clause of the Rules of Court when they distributed a press release to the media on January 16 detailing Salo’s disbarment case against Roque.

Roque said he only received his own copy this week through door-to-door delivery. 

According to the complainant, Salo and Cabarrubias' “act of causing the preparation, distribution, and publication of the press release constitute indirect contempt of this Honorable Court as they undermine the disciplinary power of this Honorable Court over lawyers and violate the established rule on the confidentiality of disbarment proceedings against an attorney."

In the his disbarment case against Roque, Salo accused the lawyer of “relentlessly spreading lies and malicious accusations” against him. 

Salo said Roque was out to destroy his reputation by telling the public that when Salo was communications undersecretary of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he supposedly accepted a bribe from former Zamboanga del Norte pepresentative Romeo Jalosjos to ensure the latter’s pardon. Jalosjos was convicted in 1997 for raping an 11-year-old girl.

Roque now wants the SC to punish each of the respondents with the maximum penalty of a P30,000-fine and 6 months in prison. 

He also urged the High Court to disbar Salo and Cabarrubias, both lawyers.

“In addition, respondents’ acts of publishing or causing the publication of confidential information relating to the disbarment proceeding reveal that respondents are not fit to continue to become members of the Philippine Bar,” said Roque.

Kabayan had investigated Roque in December 2016, after his “dishonorable behavior” during a House hearing into the narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison. 

Roque was among the congressmen accused of asking questions with sexual undertones to Ronnie Dayan, Senator Leila de Lima’s former lover and supposed bagman. (READ: 'Kailan kayo nag-climax?': Nonsense questions at the Bilibid drugs hearing)

Kabayan then moved to remove Roque as one of its representatives in the 17th Congress. Roque protested that the 3-person panel that probed him was formed by Salo himself. (READ: No, Kabayan, you can't just kick out Harry Roque)

Removal of party-list representatives also has to go through a process with the Commission on Elections. Roque has asked the poll body to nullify Kabayan's resolution against him.

Read the full copy of Roque's complaint versus Salo and Cabarrubias below:

– Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives 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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