House leaders allied with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday filed an ethics complaint against Sen. Leila de Lima for supposedly violating the rules of Congress when she advised her former driver, Ronnie Dayan, to skip a congressional inquiry.
The complaint said De Lima’s “advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend and/or appear” in the House inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) was “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.”
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House Committee on Justice chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali filed the complaint before the office of Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics.
De Lima, they said, “clearly interfered” in the House inquiry.
“This is a clear case of contempt of the power and authority vested in the House of Representatives,” the complainants said.
Dayan earlier told the House justice committee that De Lima, her former boss, advised him to snub the invitation of the panel in relation to its investigation on the prison drug trade.
De Lima and Dayan had both admitted that they were previously in a relationship. De Lima said it lasted for several years, while Dayan said they were together for seven years.
The complainants also said that De Lima violated Section 11 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives, which states that the committee may punish any person for contempt.
“Simply put, it is not only discourteous for her to unduly interfere with the proceedings of a co-equal chamber, but disrespectful to the institution called Congress, of which she is a sitting member, as it puts the co-equal chamber of the Legislative into a collision course,” the complaint said.
The complainants added that De Lima violated Section 93, Rule XXXIV on Unparliamentary Acts and Language of the Rules of Senate, which says that language that offends a senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary.
The complainants cited De Lima’s statement wherein she referred to the House probe as a “sham proceeding” and a “kangaroo court.”
“Her inducement to disregard the legal processes of a co-equal branch manifests her disrespect to the House of Representatives, as if it was an inferior institution that could be completely disregarded,” they said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, a member of the ethics panel, believes the panel has jurisdiction over the complaint filed by Congress.
“I can see now there is jurisdiction. The offense was allegedly committed while Sen. Leila de Lima, incumbent na siya. Ito ang induced or advised Ronnie Dayan not to attend. Clearly may jurisdiction,” Lacson said.
Lacson said the penalty that could be imposed on De Lima range from as low as admonition to as high as expulsion.
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