MANILA, Philippines – Another ethics complaint was filed against neophyte Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday, September 20.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, chair of the committee on ethics and privileges, confirmed this on Wednesday. He said, however, that he has yet to read the complaint. No other details were so far given.
“I will make sure that that the letter that we received last night be – a new complaint that was filed last night – I’ll make sure that all the members get a copy, so that when we call for a hearing next week,” Sotto told reporters.
The first complaint alleges that De Lima is linked to the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary, which is the same subject of an ongoing House probe. It also accused De Lima of being immoral for having a relationship with her supposed married driver.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chairman of the committee, said he is “inclined” to move that the panel dismiss the two complaints against the neophyte senator.
“Personally kahit sinasagot-sagot niya ako (even if she has been talking back to me), I’m inclined to go for the dismissal of the complaint due to lack of jurisdiction,” he said.
Lacson said the alleged unethical acts transpired years before De Lima won as senator.
The ethics panel is set to have its 3rd hearing next week. The committee has decided to settle the issue of jurisdiction before tackling whether or not the 1st complaint is sufficient in form and substance. (READ: Senate ethics body torn on how to handle complaint vs De Lima)
Sotto said it remains to be seen if the two complaints would be merged, as they have to determine first if the contents are the same.
Despite their disagreements, Lacson said he pities the lady senator, saying he knows how it feels to be in her situation.
During the term of former president Gloria Arroyo, then opposition senator Panfilo Lacson was “harassed” and linked to several crimes.
“Kasama na yan. Sa totoo lang, kasi naranasan ko rin 'yan and I know how it feels. Pero ang buwelta niya sa akin doublespeak ako. So advice ko, mas kailangan niya ng kakampi ngayon kesa sa kaaway lalo dito sa loob ng Senado. Mas mainam 'pag embattled ka huwag ka makipagaway or at the very least, tahimik ka na lang kung di ka makakuha ng kakampi,” Lacson said.
(That goes with it. Honestly, I experienced that and I know how it feels. But she made a 'doublespeak' retort against me. So my advice is she needs more allies now than enemies especially here in the Senate. If you're embattled, it would be better if you're not picking fights or at the very least, just keep silent if you can't get anyone on your side.)
Senator Manny Pacquiao, another member of the ethics committee and an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, also said he pities De Lima.
"Naaawa nga ako sa kanya dahil syempre bilang may nanay din ako (I pity her because of course I also have a mother)," Pacquiao told reporters.
While this is the case, Pacquiao was quick to point out that it is still important to know the truth.
"Pero kailangan natin 'yung katotohanan, kailangan natin 'yung tama para sa kabutihan (But we need the truth. We need what is right for the good of the people)," Pacquiao said.
It was the world boxing champion who moved to declare vacant the chairmanship and membership of the committee on justice and human rights.
Pacquiao, after voting to oust De Lima, said he did so because she was already being biased in the conduct of the probe into extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
Aside from the two ethics complaints, De Lima is the subject of a House probe and is facing an electoral protest and a possible graft case from the Department of Justice. – Rappler.com
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 email@example.com