De Lima appeals for fairness from peers
MANILA — Sen. Leila de Lima has said she is ready to face the ethics complaints filed against her before the Senate, giving “the benefit of the doubt” to colleagues tasked to investigate her even as she hoped they would inhibit themselves if they feel that their impartiality has been compromised.
De Lima, who has been facing three separate ethics complaints rooted in drug allegations against her, said she was deferring to members of the Senate committee on ethics and privileges even while several of them had shown “hostility” against her at the tense Senate hearings on the President’s bloody war on drugs.
“I will wait for the initial action of the Committee. And I’m prepared to explain myself to my peers in that issue, and the other issues they might bring up, especially that some members of the Senate are having insinuations about me having not done enough as Secretary of Justice and worst, about my being complicit in the illegal drug trade,” De Lima told reporters in a presser Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s what hurtful: that your own peers are doubting you, or that there are some who believe the lies of others,” said the senator, who has several times denied drug allegations against her.
De Lima admitted that she was “not sure” about the fairness of some of the committee members, noting that “some of them have shown some hostility against me” during the Senate justice and human rights committee hearings on the spate of drug killings.
“I hope some of them would take the initiative to inhibit (themselves) if they think they have been affected (by allegations against her),” she said.
De Lima refused to give names. The ethics committee is chaired by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, while members include Senators Panfilo Lacson, Grace Poe, Gregorio Honasan, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Escudero and Loren Legarda.
Both Sotto and Lacson earlier said there was strong evidence to indict De Lima on the drug allegations, while Poe had noted that De Lima needed to explain why the drug trade flourished at the Bilibid during her time as justice secretary.
“I’m hoping and praying that, first, they hear my side because I’ll express what I want to express and, hopefully, they are sincere in addressing the matter and exhibit a high sense of fairness and objectivity,” she said, noting that, like her colleagues, she received the people’s mandate to serve.
“It is hard to easily suspect or perceive bias on their part in handling that complaint because, you know, they are intelligent and conscientious people, and perhaps they would be able to discharge their function as members of the ethics committee with utmost fairness and objectivity,” she said.
In December, leaders of the House of Representatives filed an ethics complaint against De Lima before the Senate for dissuading former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan from appearing at the House justice committee inquiry on the Bilibid drug trade.
Dayan, who had surfaced after months of evading the inquiry, had testified to receiving a text from De Lima suggesting that he snub the investigation. At the House hearings, Dayan claimed he had received money from confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa on De Lima’s behalf, an admission the Senator said was a lie.
The House complaint follows two others earlier against filed against the neophyte senator over the drug allegations against her. SFM
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