Senate ethics panel says complaints vs De Lima sufficient

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2017 04:50 PM

MANILA - The Senate Ethics Committee has found two complaints against Senator Leila de Lima to be sufficient in form and substance and will proceed to ask the senator to respond.

The two complaints -- filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and other house representatives, and by a certain Atty Abelardo De Jesus -- both accuse De Lima of instructing Ronnie Dayan not to attend the October 6, 2016 House inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary, based on the exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan's daughter, Hannah May.

Senate Ethics Committee Chair Sen. Vicente Sotto III said the panel will consolidate both complaints and furnish De Lima a copy. She will be given 15 days to reply.

Sotto said the next step will depend on whether the Committee will be satisfied with De Lima's response. The committee may call for a hearing and may invite Dayan and his daughter to attend. But he stressed, it will be open to the public.

“Ayaw namin pagbintangan na may dinidiin kami at ayaw din naman mapagbintangan na may nililigtas kaming kasama,” Sotto said.

The Senate Ethics Committee hearing on Monday was presided by Sotto and attended by Senators Panfilo Lacson, Gringo Honasan, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Manny Pacquiao. It lasted no more than 10 minutes.

In the same hearing, the senators agreed to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction two other complaints filed by Atty. De Jesus and another lawyer because the alleged acts were committed before De Lima became senator.

The complaints referred to De Lima's alleged links to the illegal drug trade in at the national penitentiary and her affair with Dayan, a married person.

De Lima welcomed the dismissal of the other complaints but she said she will wait for the official copy of the consolidated complaint before making any comment.

DE LIMA ANSWERS RAP

Aside from the ethics complaint at the Senate, Alvarez, Reps. Reynaldo Umali and Rodolfo Fariñas have also filed before a Quezon City municipal trial court a criminal complaint for violation of Art. 150 of the Revised Penal Code against De Lima.

Art. 150 of the Revised Penal Code punishes a person who disobeys summons issued by Congress as well as those who restrain a witness from attending a Congressional hearing or induce others to disobey summons. It carries a penalty of arresto mayor equivalent to one month and one day to six months imprisonment and/or a fine amounting to two hundred to one thousand pesos.

In her 12-page affidavit, De Lima argued the criminal complaint failed to state that she was aware that Dayan was issued "summons" and not merely an invitation, so as to make her liable under the law. 

De Lima further said Dayan acted on his own volition in deciding not to attend the October 6 House hearing and not based on her advice, as Dayan was already in hiding even before the alleged exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan's daughter.

De Lima also questioned the authority of Alvarez, Umali and Fariñas to file the complaint on behalf of the House of Representatives, which, De Lima said, is the real offended party.

Moreover, De Lima claimed the metropolitan trial court has no jurisdiction over offenses committed by members of Congress. Instead, the complaint should have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, De Lima said.