Coming soon at House: Sex, lies and videotape
FROM DIRTY to sordid.
The House of Representatives’ inquiry into the illicit drug trade at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City has taken a sleazy turn after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez approved the showing of a sex tape allegedly featuring Sen. Leila de Lima.
But senators put their foot down on the move, with Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III warning lawmakers that they would pay a political price for reckless actions.
“Be sensitive to the sensibility, feelings and effect of our actions on the reputation of our fellow legislators,” Pimentel told reporters as he reminded his colleagues to be responsible for their actions. “But if they do some reckless action, be ready to pay the political price.”
Alvarez said he saw nothing wrong should the House justice committee decide to show the sex video “if that’s needed to establish that there’s a personal relationship” between De Lima and her purported lover and former driver, Ronnie Dayan, who allegedly collected payoffs for her from drug lords inside NBP.
De Lima, one of the sharpest critics of President Duterte, is at the center of the House committee’s inquiry into her alleged connection to the drug lords when she was justice secretary.
She has refused to appear at the hearing and questioned the credibility of the witnesses presented by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, including alleged drug lords and convicted kidnappers and murderers.
The next hearing is on Oct. 5. “If Senator De Lima does not want to appear here at the House of Representatives, we will let the people, the public, judge whether that sex video is true or not,” Alvarez told reporters.
He said that showing the video would violate no law. “We are doing this in aid of legislation.”
On Monday, in response to De Lima’s quip that Mr. Duterte might have romantic feelings for her, the President alluded to the sex tape, saying he would lose his appetite “every time I watch the video.”
Alvarez insisted that the inquiry was not meant to prosecute De Lima. “This is not a criminal proceeding.”
The Speaker said he told the justice committee chair, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, that the proceedings were solely for drafting a law to address the drug problem at NBP. Pimentel seemed to have misgivings about the Speaker’s decision to show the video.
Noting that there have been attempts to show him sex videos before, he said this might even be just a “psywar.”
“Why are we getting into this kind of issue? Actually we maybe wasting our time,” he said.
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, who is the vice chair of the Liberal Party of which De Lima is a member, urged Pimentel and Alvarez to meet and discuss the matter.
“Interparliamentary courtesy calls for respect and courtesy to a fellow legislator,” Drilon said.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV said it would be “highly inappropriate” and “foul” to show the alleged sex video.
“Until and unless that somebody comes forward to attest that he or she in fact took the video shows then this could be tackled. But just to embarrass or just to make a scene out of the video at a hearing being followed by millions of Filipinos, this should not be done,” Lacson told reporters.
Trillanes said Congress should not stoop to this kind of low standard so as to demean the person of De Lima.
Sen. Grace Poe said she had reservations about the legality of the playing of alleged sex video, which would violate the very law that Congress passed.
Poe cited Section 4(d) of Republic Act No. 9995, or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009, that “expressly prohibits and declares unlawful the showing of photo or video coverage or recordings of such sexual act or any similar activity through VCD/DVD, internet, cellular phones and other similar means or device.”
Opposition lawmakers in the House led by Minority Leader Danilo Suarez on Wednesday said they, too, opposed the showing of a sex tape.
Suarez said he would personally ask Secretary Aguirre “to think twice about showing it at a congressional hearing.”
But aside from questioning the relevance of the sex video to the congressional investigation, the lawmakers objected to showing it because, to them, it was not a pleasant sight.
“I’m saying it should not be shown. We have no idea who released that, who filmed it, who’s the cameraman, who’s the director,” Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said.
Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said it might be enough to subject the video to a forensic examination.
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