Senate panel junks ethics complaints vs De Lima, Lacson, Trillanes

MANILA, Philippines (4TH UPDATE) – The Senate ethics committee on Tuesday, February  20, dismissed the ethics complaints against Senators Leila de Lima, Panfilo Lacson, and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

In dismissing the 3 ethics complaints against De Lima, the panel cited lack of jurisdiction as these are based on matters that were already pending before a court.

“She did not violate the Senate rules and it is not related to De Lima’s official function. We moved for the dismissal of the case without prejudice to reviving the case in the future," said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who moved for the dismissal of the ethics complaints against the senators.

Responding to questions, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, panel chair, said a member of the Senate ethics committee “may move to reopen or revive the case [against De Lima] if it happens that it is decided on unfavorably in the lower courts.” 

Sotto shared the position taken by Senator Gregorio Honasan II that in dismissing the complaints, the Senate showed that it “will not allow anyone or any sector to abuse discretion on filing complaints againt any member of the Senate…without basis.”

Lawyer Abelardo de Jesus filed an ethics complaint against De Lima in September 2016 based on the allegations of President Rodrigo Duterte that she was involved in the illegal drug trade.

House leaders filed an ethics complaint against De Lima in December 2016 for advising her former driver-bodyguard and ex-boyfriend Ronnie Dayan against appearing before the congressional probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.

Then Kabayan Representative now Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque filed another ethics complaint against De Lima in February 2017, accusing De Lima of conspiring with Kabayan Representative Ron Salo to hide their supposed involvement in the narcotics trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon earlier filed ethics complaints against Lacson and Trillanes in connection with the Senate hearings on the P6.4-billion shabu shipment. 

Faeldon wanted Lacson either suspended or removed from office for a privilege speech delivered on August 23, 2017, where he named individuals – both inside and outside the Bureau of Customs (BOC) – who allegedly partake in corrupt activities. Lacson said Faeldon was among the corrupt in the BOC.

The former Customs chief filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes, because of “insinuations” he made during the Senate hearings on the shabu shipment.

The panel is also deliberating two other ethics complaints against Trillanes – filed by De Jesus and fellow Senator Richard Gordon, and complaints against Gordon filed by Trillanes, and the complaint of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II against Senator Risa Hontiveros.

Gordon and Trillanes had accused each other of committing “unparliamentary acts.” (READ: Gordon filed ethics complaint vs 'unparliamentary' Trillanes and Trillanes files ethics case vs Gordon)

Aguirre filed an ethics complaint against Hontiveros for allegedly violating his right to privacy when she released a photo that caught him texting former Negros Occidental Representative Jacinto Paras urging the latter to “expedite” the cases against the senator. – Rappler.com