Senate ethics body to keep complaint vs De Lima confidential
The Senate committee on ethics held a closed-door meeting on Tuesday and decided to keep the complaint against Senator Leila de Lima confidential to avoid “premature publicity.”
The meeting was held at the office of Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, chairman of the committee, and attended by Senators Panfilo Lacson, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II and Risa Hontiveros.
After adopting the previous rules of the committee, Sotto said he informed the members that there was a complaint filed against their colleague.
He was apparently referring to the complaint reportedly lodged by a certain lawyer Aberlardo De Jesus in connection with De Lima’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. The lady senator has repeatedly denied the allegation.
“We’ve decided to call for a general counsel and we will furnish each member a copy, confidential copy of all the complaints. We decided to keep it confidential because it might be premature publicity,” Sotto told reporters after the meeting.
“And therefore in fairness, we’d rather that we keep it confidential. We will decide if it’s within form and substance and what the committee will decide to do with it after the next meeting,” he said.
Sotto said the committee usually gets a general counsel to facilitate the work of its members “so that we can easily decide on the jurisdiction and what to do with it, and whether to pursue or dismiss.”
The committee, he said, will also decide later if it would open its proceedings to the public or not.
Asked if the committee has jurisdiction over alleged crimes or misconduct that happened even before the incumbency of a senator, Sotto said: “Then there will be an issue of jurisdiction if that’s the case, if the complaint is only about that.”
“If there are other issues in the complaint then therefore it’s another thing. That’s why it’s not easy for us to just take over jurisdiction or to dismiss because of underlying factors,” he said.
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