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Koko to House on 'De Lima' video: 'Be ready to pay political price'

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III cautioned fellow lawmakers about the consequences of their possible "reckless action," or showing the alleged sex video of neophyte Senator Leila de Lima at a House inquiry.

Pimentel made the statement after his PDP-Laban party mate, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, said there was nothing wrong with showing the alleged video in a House probe into De Lima’s supposed role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary.

Should the House decide to push through with its plan, Pimentel warned of the possible “political price” of such action.

“If they should do some reckless action, be ready to pay the political price. Ganoon naman kami sa elective offices, we cannot be impeached but we should be ready to face [the] political price,” Pimentel told reporters on Wednesday, September 28.

Bakit tayo kumakagat sa ganitong usapin (Why are we buying into this kind of talk)? We may be wasting our time,” he added.

De Lima earlier said releasing any sex video is against the law.

Pimentel said the Senate would not issue a resolution to express a “collegial stand.” He instead advised his fellow lawmakers to be “responsible” for their actions and “sensitive” to their colleagues’ feelings.

“The Senate as an institution will not issue a resolution about the issue, that’s how the Senate takes a collegial stand. Siguro (Perhaps) as senator, as Senate President, a reminder to all fellow legislators and lawmakers to be responsible for our actions,” Pimentel said.

“Be sensitive to the sensibilities, feelings and the effect of our actions on the reputation of our fellow legislators,” he added.

Inter-parliamentary rules, foul?

Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, De Lima’s party mate in the Liberal Party, urged Pimentel and Alvarez to discuss the matter. Drilon, a long-time senator, said he has never heard or experienced such a situation.

Inter-parliamentary courtesy, he said, means according respect to fellow lawmakers in both Houses of Congress.

“To me, inter-parliamentary courtesy would call for respect and courtesy to a fellow legislator and therefore I call on Senate President Koko and Speaker Alvarez to meet and discuss this. This is something I have never heard before,” Drilon told reporters.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of De Lima’s allies in the chamber, said playing the alleged private video at a congressional inquiry is already too much.

Trillanes said Alvarez should consider putting himself in the shoes of someone being threatened with the public display of a sex video, whether real or fabricated.

The senator, also a critic of Duterte, said the showing of the alleged video is “foul." Whether or not the video is real, Trillanes said lawmakers should not stoop down to such low level.

Sa akin, meron 'mang sex video o wala, ano 'yan, talagang foul na 'yan kahit kanino gagawin 'yan. Imagine ni Speaker Alvarez, kung sa kanya gagawin yan, whether totoo o hindi?” Trillanes said.

(To me, whether or not there is a sex video, it's really foul, regardless of who's involved. Speaker Alvarez should imagine, what if it's done to him, whether true or not?) 

“'Di dapat tayo bababa sa ganyang standards. Kung gusto nila i-demean ang pagkatao ni Senator De Lima, sobra-sobra na 'yan. Di dapat ginagawa 'yan,” he added.

(We should not stoop down to such standards. If they want to demean Senator De Lima's character, that's too much already. It shouldn't be done.) 

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte himself first divulged to the public the alleged private video of De Lima in August. He has repeatedly mentioned this in his impromptu speeches, sometimes without naming De Lima but referring to her as an "X-rated actress."

Duterte earlier said he could show the video and may one day question De Lima on who the guy is – her former driver Ronnie Dayan or inmate Jaybee Sebastian, who are both accused of pooling money for her. (READ: Duterte: De Lima will surely go to jail) – 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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