Senate vows speedy probe of Leila
THE SENATE committee on ethics and privileges vowed on Tuesday to quickly resolve a lawyer’s complaint against Sen. Leila de Lima in connection with allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Committee chair Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III agreed to immediately schedule another hearing on Thursday, even as they adjourned to give way to an amended complaint that lawyer Abelardo de Jesus filed before Tuesday’s proceedings.
De Jesus had based his complaint solely on President Duterte’s allegations that De Lima had profited from the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison during her time as Justice Secretary.
De Lima has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying it was just part of efforts to taint her name just as she pursued an investigation into the spate of suspicious killings amid President Duterte’s war on drugs.
“We cannot keep this dragging. There’s urgency to resolve this complaint,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson told the body just before it adjourned.
Sotto said he would readily send copies of De Jesus’ amended complaint to the body’s seven members so that they could assess the case within the week.
“Hopefully we will be able to call a hearing on Thursday morning,” Sotto said.
“We should act on it as soon as possible so that we won’t be accused of pressing it on Sen. De Lima, or that we are saving her immediately. I don’t want people to think that way, so we would like to act as early as we can,” he told reporters.
During the hearing, the committee held initial discussions on the complaint, debating whether or not the body should first rule on whether or not it had jurisdiction over the case, or if the complaint had form and substance.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon cited the case of former Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito Estrada, wife of former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who faced an ethics complaint in 2001 but was absolved as her alleged violation happened during her time as First Lady.
The case, Drilon said, was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. He said such ruling “was affirmed by the Senate as a body.”
De Jesus’ allegations against De Lima covered events that happened before her election to the Senate.
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