Solon: Inquiry on De Lima-Dayan affair ‘of national interest’
MANILA — The party-list congressman who asked former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan when his affair with Senator Leila de Lima “climaxed,” defended his line of questioning as being “of national interest.”
1-Ang Edukasyon Rep. Salvador Belaro, Jr., took to the floor on Monday and delivered a privilege speech that lambasted online sites, including Rappler, for articles that highlighted supposedly salacious questions raised during the hearing last Thursday.
“To our detractors, let me say this. You have a perverted sense of nationalism as our questions are not nonsense, but are in fact questions of national interest,” Belaro said.
“I believe a congressional investigation is in order to prevent these online sites from peddling opinions which only suit their interest.”
Belaro said the interpellation, aired live on national television, was meant to prove the nature of De Lima’s relationship with Dayan and “how such relationship was used or not used in the Bilibid drug trade.”
“By way of analogy, in a prosecution for rape or seduction, it is an absolute necessity to ask questions that would establish or demolish the factual basis of such crime,” he said.
He added that even if De Lima already admitted to having a relationship with Dayan in a television interview aired Nov. 14, “we cannot take those admissions at face value.”
He said that he wanted to know if Dayan would be the type of person who could overpower De Lima, if it was the other way around, or if there was simply no connection to the drug trade.
He even compared the notion of Dayan’s alleged influence over De Lima to the controversy in South Korea that led to calls for President Park Geun-hye to resign over an adviser’s interference in government affairs.
Belaro said “there is absolutely nothing wrong” with the way the House committee on justice participated in the questioning of Dayan.
“Yes, the language used by many members of Congress who participated in the questioning of Dayan may have been colorful, but that is called for by the situation, not only because the witness himself displayed a penchant for such colorful language such as ‘sinasalat (caressing)’ and ‘walang basagan ng trip (don’t mind another person’s trip)’ but also because the subject matter of the inquiry is itself very delicate in nature,” he said.
Belaro also questioned why critics considered it as “disrespect” for De Lima, but not for Dayan.
“Let it be put in record that it is never our intention to disrespect Senator De Lima who is a co-equal member of the legislature. The person whom we cross-examined was not Senator De Lima but Ronnie Dayan,” he said.
“It is a continuing source of amazement for this representation why nobody even complained that the rights of Dayan was ever violated but only that of Senator De Lima who was not even the witness during our investigation.”
Blaming Rappler for triggering a spate of online articles criticizing the lawmakers’ behavior, Belaro described its “selective presentation of the questions I raised.” He said his use of the word “climax” was not meant to be sexual.
He also took exception to Rappler’s “slanted presentation that we encourage sexism [and] disrespect for women.” Focusing on the lawmakers’ purported gender insensitivity was akin to “severely missing the forest for the trees,” he said.
He took even more potshots at “some online sites” that would accept only comments that “suit their agenda.”
He also complained about sites that have “mood meters,” presumably a reference to Rappler.
“If you try to post any of your reaction, it remains unchanged,” he said. SFM