Lady lawmakers oppose showing of 'De Lima' video in House probe

MANILA, Philippines – Several female lawmakers have opposed the plan to show Senator Leila De Lima’s alleged sex video at a congressional inquiry into the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was justice secretary.

Naniniwala ako [na] paglabag ito sa karapatang pantao at pagyurak sa dignidad [at] integridad. Paglabag din ito sa privacy ng individual,” said ACT Teachers Representative France Castro on Thursday, September 29. 

(I believe this is a violation of human rights and a trampling of dignity and integrity. This is also a violation of an individual’s privacy.) 

This comes after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he saw nothing wrong in playing the alleged video at the House hearing next week to prove the senator’s supposed relationship with her former driver Ronnie Dayan. Dayan is alleged to be her bagman who collected from drug lords at the Bilibid for her senatorial campaign kitty.

Witnesses – mostly Bilibid convicts – had testified before the House committee on justice that De Lima had links with the illegal drug trade inside the NBP,  which De Lima has repeatedly denied.

Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago said the showing of the alleged sex video is “immaterial” to the investigation of the House panel.

“We support the moves to ferret out the truth on the alleged drug syndicates operating inside the Bilibid. We believe that alleged sex video, the showcase of the alleged sex video is immaterial to the investigation,” said Elago. 

‘Yan ay ‘di dapat maipalabas dahil ‘yan ay pribado at ‘di naman ‘yan makakatulong sa pagkuha ng katotohanan (That should not be shown because that is private and will not help in ferreting out the truth),” she added.

Unlawful

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Emmi De Jesus shared the same sentiment, saying the alleged sex tape will only divert attention from crucial pieces of evidence to be presented in the hearings. 

“Showing of the alleged video muddles the issues central to the investigations into the links between government officials and the drug trade. Congressional hearings should focus its probe on the salient pieces of evidence that will point to the involvement of drug lords and government officials in the illegal drug trade with respect to existing laws,” said De Jesus.

She also cited Republic Act Number 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009 “which accords respect for human rights and penalizes acts that aim to annihilate any person's honor, dignity and integrity.” 

De Jesus said the law punishes the showing of photos, videos, or recordings of sexual acts or any similar activity via Internet, mobile phones, and other similar device. 

"No man, woman or child, no matter how justified the case is presented for such proposals, deserve to be subjected to the prospect of one's private affairs exposed," said De Jesus.  

Women senators also cried foul over publicizing De Lima’s alleged sex tape, calling the move “illegal” and “misogynistic.”  

De Lima has been on the receiving end of attacks by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies after she pushed for an investigation into the spate of killings linked to the administration's war on drugs.  Long before that, De Lima, as Commission on Human Rights chief, drew the ire of Duterte when she probed the Davao City mayor's links to the Davao Death Squad (DDS) in 2009.

She was ousted as Senate committee on human rights and justice chairperson after she presented whistleblower Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed DDS member who claimed that Duterte ordered the group to kill crime suspects and others in Davao City.

The House probe – initiated after De Lima filed a resolution for the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings – had featured several witnesses who claimed that De Lima got money from drug operations in the Bilibid to help fund her senatorial campaign.

De Lima had categorically denied all the allegations, and accused the Duterte administration of fabricating evidence to tailor-fit the claims hurled against her by the President himself.  – 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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