Ethics complaint vs De Lima filed at Senate
An ethics complaint against Senator Leila de Lima was formally filed at the Senate on Monday for “unethical conduct” when she advised her former aide and partner Ronnie Dayan to snub an investigation of the House of Representatives.
De Lima was on official trip abroad when the 12-page complaint was lodged by Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali before the Senate committee on ethics headed by Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III shortly before 4 p.m.
Umali, chair of House justice committee, stood as respondent in the complaint along with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
Sotto received the complaint in his office in the presence of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan.
The complaint said De Lima committed “unethical conduct” as a senator when she advised Dayan through his daughter Hannah Mae to hide and not to appear in the House justice committee’s inquiry into the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison when De Lima was still Justice Secretary.
The lady senator, it said, violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that “Disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions.”
“As an incumbent Senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend and/or appear in the House inquiry for which she was duly summoned, is tantamount to restraining or inducing disobedience to a summon issued by Congress, of which she is a sitting member, in violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code,” the complaint said.
When she advised Dayan to hide and refrain from appearing the House probe, the complaint said De Lima “clearly interfered in a congressional inquiry conducted by the House committee on justice.”
“This is a clear case of contempt of the power and authority vested in the House of Representatives,” it said.
The respondents said De Lima also committed an “unparliamentary act” when she called the committee a “kangaroo court.”
“Wherefore, premises considered, it is respectfully prayed of this honorable committee that after due hearing, respondent Senator Leila De Lima be disciplined in accordance with the rules of the Senate of the Philippines. Other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises are likewise prayed for,” the complaint further said.
Umali, who came alone to file the complaint, said they would leave it up to the sound judgment of the ethics committee to decide on the penalty it would impose on De Lima if found guilty of the charges hurled at her.
The congressman reiterated that the move of the House leadership was not about De Lima but her “disrespect” for the institution.
“Kung hindi rin naging ganun ang actuation ni Senator De Lima baka hindi rin namin finile ito pero parang ang nangyari hihamon nya talaga ang House e (Had it not been Senator De Lima’s actuation, we would not have filed this but it seems like she is really challenging the House). So this is ultimately the decision of the House leadership to pursue the matter including the filing of an ethics complaint,” Umali told reporters.
But in an earlier interview, De Lima stood by her advice to Dayan, saying what she did was not an obstruction of justice, but “obstruction of persecution.”
“That’s not obstruction of justice, obstruction of persecution. At anong justice ang sinasabi nila? Wala naman akong nakikitang justice dyan sa proceedings nila yan? Hindi naman nila ako binibigyan ng justice. Wala namang makatarungan sa ginagawa nila sa akin (What justice are they talking about? I couldn’t see any justice in their proceedings. They didn’t give me any justice. There’s no justice in what they are doing to me). So why call it obstruction of justice?” De Lima said in an interview last November 28.
“Mas maganda ang itawag natin dyan (It would be better called the) obstruction of persecution. I’m trying to obstruct the acts of persecution being done to me by this administration,” she added. RAM/rga
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