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House leaders file ethics complaint vs De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the House of Representatives filed the 3rd ethics complaint against Senator Leila de Lima for advising her former driver-bodyguard and ex-boyfriend Ronnie Dayan against appearing before the congressional probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.

House justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali personally lodged the complaint on Monday, December 12, at the Senate.

"The corresponding disciplinary measures must be imposed to penalize Senator De Lima for her unethical acts, conduct and behavior," said Umali, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas in their 13-page complaint.

They argued that De Lima, the fiercest critic of the President, violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code when she advised Dayan, also her alleged bagman, to snub the congressional hearing.

The law penalizes any person "who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official."

They also alleged that De Lima violated Congress' rule governing inquiries in aid of legislation for her "undue interference" in the conduct of the proceedings.

"[She] clearly interfered in a congressional inquiry conducted by the House Committee on Justice. This is a clear case of contempt of the power and authority vested in the House of Representatives," the complaint said.

"As a member of the Senate, a lawyer and a former Secretary of Justice, Respondent Senator is well aware that contumacious acts are abhorred in congressional investigations and would very well know how a person duly summoned should conduct himself or herself."

'Unparliamentary'

The House leaders accused De Lima of being "unparliamentary" for her comments on the House hearings.

Citing Senate rules, they said: "Acts and language which offend a Senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary.” 

The senator earlier called the House inquiry a "sham proceeding" and a "kangaroo court."

"Such hostile acts and language towards a co-equal chamber is considered an unparliamentary act and is a clear violation of conduct of a Member of the Senate," the House leaders said.

They added that De Lima's "complete disregard" of a co-equal chamber's hearing endangers "mutual respect" between the two.

"Her inducement to disregard the legal processes of a co-equal branch manifests her disrespect to the House of Representatives, as if it was an inferior institution that could be completely disregarded," they said.

House members, however, earlier faced criticism for their line of questioning, which seemed meant to "shame" De Lima - a move widely criticized by senators.

Speaker Alvarez earlier backed the plan to show the alleged sex video of the senator but he eventually decided against it. (READ: Alvarez: OK to show De Lima's alleged sex tape in House probe)

Lawmakers, during the hearing, also feasted on the love affair of De Lima and Dayan.

Dayan, during the House hearing, said De Lima advised him to hide and skip the inquiry, as the lawmakers would supposedly just make a show out of them.

In response, the committee issued a show-cause order to De Lima to explain why she should not be cited in contempt – a move slammed by De Lima's allies in the Liberal Party. The senator, for her part, stood firm and said she would not honor the order and would not face lawmakers.

De Lima is facing two other ethics complaints on the basis of her alleged drug links. She is also facing a disbarment case before the Supreme Court and multiple drug charges before the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice, among others. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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