House panel issues show-cause order vs De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on justice issued a show-cause order against Senator Leila de Lima after her former security aide Ronnie Dayan claimed she had advised him to snub the House probe into the narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

"Since the testimony of Mr Ronnie Dayan pertains to the fact that the Honorable Senator Leila de Lima prevented him from testifying before this committee, Mr Chairman, and in the interest of fair play, let us hear first Senator Leila de Lima. I move that a show cause order be issued by this committee to Senator Leila de Lima on why she should not be cited in contempt, your honor," said Arts Business and Science Professionals Representative Eugene de Vera.

The justice panel reopened its investigation on Thursday, November 24, following Dayan's arrest in San Juan, La Union two days before. 

Dayan went into hiding in August after President Rodrigo Duterte alleged that he and De Lima had an affair and were also involved in the proliferation of drugs inside the NBP.

The justice panel issued a subpoena against Dayan for him to appear during the hearing on October 6, but he did not show up. The committee then issued an arrest warrant against him and also cited him in contempt. 

On Thursday, Dayan said it was De Lima – through a text message exchange with his daughter – who advised him to skip the hearing because the committee "would make a show of [them]."

The justice panel had repeatedly invited De Lima to the probe, but she belittled the investigation and called it a "sham inquiry" designed by Duterte and his allies to destroy her name. (READ: De Lima files test case vs Duterte)

Committee chairperson and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali earlier said they cannot compel De Lima to attend out of respect for the longstanding tradition of inter-parliamentary courtesy between the House of Representatives and the Senate. 

Under inter-parliamentary courtesy, both houses of Congress do not intrude into each other's affairs. 

But Umali said on Thursday that De Lima had broken the courtesy when she texted Dayan's daughter. 

"There is a motion and this should be acted upon because what prevails on the two chambers is actually inter-parliamentary courtesy. And when you say inter-parliamentary courtesy, this is just a courtesy that you ought to give to a co-equal body," said Umali.

"There was this courtesy in the fact that perhaps telling a witness not to appear here is something that really violates it. Then while we ought to observe courtesy, we expect the same from a member of a co-equal body," the lawmaker added. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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