De Lima: ‘I will not face congressmen’

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima stood firm on Monday, November 28, that she would “not honor” the show cause order issued against her by the House of Representatives, after its committee on justice concluded she had tried to obstruct its probe into the proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary. 

Top leaders of the House on Monday said the committee on justice may cite the embattled senator for contempt and order her arrest if she ignores the show cause order set to be issued against her.

While House panel has the power to penalize acts of contempt, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas said they could avoid a collision with the Senate by instead filing a criminal complaint for contempt before the Quezon City regional trial court. 

Another option, he said, is to ask the Supreme Court to disbar De Lima.

“Whatever their plans are – whether it is show cause, whether it is arrest, whether it is ethics complaint, whether it is a case with the regular courts, or a case with the Supreme Court, I’ll just wait for it and I will refer that to my legal team. Then we will decide what’s the proper course of action,” De Lima said in Filipino in a chance interview with reporters.

“But certainly, I will not face them. Certainly, I will not honor that show cause order,” she added. 

De Lima countered congressmen’s claim that she disrespected the chamber when she allegedly told her former driver and boyfriend, Ronnie Dayan, not to show up at the House hearing. 

The justice committee is looking into claims by New Bilibid Prison inmates that they gave De Lima drug money, through Dayan, when she was still secretary of the Department of Justice. The funds were reportedly used for her senatorial campaign in 2016. 

“They’re imputing disrespect on my part. They feel slighted. I’ll throw it back at them. Aren’t they the ones who have disrespected me all tho time? So what do they expect me to do? Obstruction of justice? Why, is there justice in their proceedings? We better just call it obstruction of prosecution because that’s what it is,” De Lima said.

They’ve been disrespecting me since the start of that so-called House inquiry. That’s why I don’t even acknowledge that inquiry…. I’m just being consistent with my defiance vis-à-vis that so-called House inquiry, which I knew was nothing but a way to embarrass me. That is plain and simple kangaroo court,” she added. 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III was also non-committal on intervening in the potential clash between the Senate and the House over the show cause order against De Lima. 

He said courtesy between chambers is “not expressly provided for in the Constitution,” neither is it “expressly provided for in any law as far as I know.” 

“So it is a matter of practice or strategy. If you want smoother relations, or working relationship with your fellow congressional chamber, then you better observe some courtesy,” the Senate President said. 

Pimentel refused to comment on the issue while the Senate leadership or De Lima herself has yet to receive any official communication of the show-cause order from the House. He said the matter will be decided by the chamber at the appropriate time.

Dayan at Senate hearing

Asked about the reported plan of Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on peace and order, to invite Dayan to a hearing, De Lima acknowledged it is “the prerogative of the committee.”

She pointed out that Dayan’s account before congressmen about her supposed drug links contradicted the claims of Eastern Visayas drug lord Kerwin Espinosa when the latter faced senators earlier last week. 

“I’m not ruling out a scenario, the possibility, that after Kerwin Espinosa, they (Duterte administration) will present some other alleged drug lords, who will point to me, especially now that their scripts for both Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan were ruined,” De Lima said.

The lady senator said she will probably not attend Lacson’s committee hearing when Dayan testifies. 

In the House hearing, Dayan admitted that he had an affair with De Lima for 7 years, and claimed he accepted money from Espinosa on behalf of De Lima. He denied, however, the claims of prison inmates that he also got drug money from them for the senator. – Rappler.com