LP senators on House plan to show 'De Lima' video: 'Illegal, deplorable'

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party senators strongly opposed the plan of the House of Representatives to show an alleged private video of their party mate at a congressional inquiry.

In a joint statement, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Francis Pangilinan called the move to show the alleged video of neophyte Senator Leila De Lima as unlawful and “deplorable.”

“We vehemently oppose the plan of the House of Representatives to show the alleged videos as disrespectful, deplorable, and illegal,” the senators said in a joint statement.

“Regardless of the authenticity of the alleged videos, viewing it is disrespectful to a sitting senator, to her person, and to the office she holds, and is violative of the law,” they added.

They appealed to their counterparts in the House to be prudent in their actions as legislators. Drilon, who earlier said that inter-parliamentary courtesy "calls for respect" to a fellow legislator, had urged Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to discuss the matter. (READ: Alvarez: OK to show De Lima's alleged sex tape in House probe)

“We appeal to the members of House of Representatives to be more circumspect of our larger roles as legislators: safekeepers of governance traditions and examples to our children,” the senators said.

Some women lawmakers have also come to De Lima’s defense, saying the planned move is "illegal, misogynistic, and below the belt" regardless of the subject of the alleged sex video. (READ: Lady lawmakers oppose showing of 'De Lima' video in House probe)

De Lima drew the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for initiating a Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings linked to his war on drugs. Duterte's allies in the House countered it with an investigation into her alleged role in the proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.

Unlawful

The LP senators said the proposal violates at least 3 laws: Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Voyeurism Law of 2009, RA 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law, and the Revised Penal Code on Crimes against Honor.

The Anti Voyeurism Law, the senators said, prohibits the recording or broadcast of videos of a sexual act without the consent of the persons featured in the material, while the Anti Wiretapping Law penalizes playing of recording of any private communication without the consent of those involved.

Such materials, they added, are inadmissible even in legislative hearings.

Should lawmakers insist on their plan, the 3 senators said those involved could be held liable for “Slander by Deed,” an act intended to cast dishonor, disrespect, or contempt upon a person.

They could also be charged for incriminating an innocent person by planting evidence and intriguing against honor by resorting to any scheme, plot, or design to destroy a reputation.

De Lima herself earlier said playing such videos, if they indeed do exist, at a House probe or before a court is against the law. (READ: De Lima: Aguirre's evidence vs me 'fake' like his wig)

Duterte was the first to divulge the existence of the alleged video in August, when she alleged that the former justice secretary was linked to the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.

On Monday, September 26, Duterte said he could publicly release De Lima's alleged video with a man, saying he may one day question her on who the guy is – Dayan or NBP inmate Jaybee Sebastian, who allegedly helped De Lima collect drug money in the Bilibid for her senatorial campaign. (READ: Duterte: De Lima will surely go to jail)

An exasperated, infuriated De Lima had asked the President and his officials to stop "fabricating" lies against her. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, 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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