Sen. Leila de Lima appears to have invented a new law, with her latest claim that she has not obstructed justice, but merely obstructed persecution from the House of Representatives’ probe which she called a “kangaroo court.”
At the same time, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) sent a sup-plemental affidavit in a disbarment case filed against de Lima citing her text message to the daughter of her former driver-lover where she advised him to go into hiding to evade testifying before the House of Representatives.
De Lima yesterday confirmed to media that she had indeed sent that text message to her former bodyguard-driver-lover, Ronnie Palisoc Dayan’s daughter, Hannah Mae, advising him to go into hiding and for him not to honor the House of Representatives’ reopened investigation into its New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) drug trade, where various convicts had earlier testified to having handed drug money to de Lima through Dayan, in the millions of pesos.
Despite her admission of having deliberately advised Dayan from attending the House inquiry, de Lima defended her move, insisting that she will stand her ground and not honor the show cause order by the House of Representatives after her failure to face the congressional inquiry on the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary and risk being arrested.
She said she was merely protecting herself from “persecution” when she advised Dayan against appearing at the probe.
“What obstruction of justice? I’m trying to obstruct the persecution being done by this administration,” she said, despite having committed the crime of obstruction of justice, and admitting that she had told Dayn to go into hiding, she insisted that she will “stand by (her) advice.”
Ethics complaint vs Leila filed in Senate
An ethics complaint against de Lima stemming from her “advice” to Dayan who had an arrest order, to go into hiding instead, had already been lodged before the Senate ethics and privileges committee, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said.
Amid this latest case against her, the senator had already admitted that she validated the revelations made in the House of Representatives by Dayan’s daughter, Hanna Mae, on her admitted text message to her father.
“I stand by my advice. It was an advice and I stand by it,” the senator said in an interview with reporters.
Lawyer Abelardo de Jesus who already filed a complaint before the said committee chaired by Majority Leader Sotto as early as August over de Lima’s alleged drug links, yesterday filed another supplemental complaint-affidavit, this time based on the issue concerning “disobedience to summons.”
The matter concerns Dayan’s claims that he was allegedly willing to attend to attend the lower house inquiry but was told by de Lima not to honor the said order and hide.
“That’s the handiwork of Speaker (Pantaleon) Alvarez as dictated by (President) Digong (Duterte). They will just feast on him and the two of us if he appears in that hearing,” de Lima’s text message supposedly read.
Sotto dropped hints on the de Jesus’ second complaint prospering this time as it involves an offense committed when de Lima is already a senator.
Since de Jesus has a pending case, Sotto said they could take up his second complaint alongside with the disposition of the first case which is currently under deliberation on whether or not the ethics committee has jurisdiction in taking up the issue.
“This time it involves Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code, which is disobedience to summons. (It pertains to cases like) for example, restraining a person or another from attending the summons of the national assembly which is the Congress (of the lower house). I just received it today and I just sent it to the other members of the committee today,” Sotto said.
Whether members of the lower house will file a separate complaint, it will not add to the “weight” of the case since the issue at hand is the same, he said.
In his initial complaint, de Jesus charged De Lima with betrayal of public trust, gross misconduct, serious misrepresentation and grievous negligence.
He also accused de Lima of allegedly “collecting money through her driver (Dayan) from the narco-inmates at the National Penitentiary to finance her Senate electoral campaign.”
The first complaint, a copy of which had been obtained by the Tribune, did not provide any new information other than what the President has publicly accused De Lima and the complainant, was quick in dismissing any impression of his possible links with Malacañang saying that he has been apolitical all his life and even voted for the senator in the last May 9 elections.
De Jesus himself said in his two-page affidavit that the basis of his complaint is the speech of the President delivered last Aug. 17 during the 115th Police Service Anniversary in Camp Crame in which the senator was accused of being supposedly on the take of drug money from convicted drug lords.
“Considering this very serious charge against respondent was hurled by no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, there is no reason to doubt its veracity and the grounds therefore. Thus, I plead the Senate ethics committee to request the Office of the President for these evidentiary matters to warrant and justify the penalty sought to be imposed against respondent,” he said.
“Based on the President’s summation, respondent failed to uphold these attributes of a public officer earlier as secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ) and now as a senator of the country tantamount to betrayal of public trust, gross misconduct and serious negligence in the performance of official duties as a public officer. Wherefore premises considered, after affording respondent due process and hearing, it is respectfully prayed that respondent be expelled as a member of the Philippine Senate,” he added.
Supplemental complaint filed
A supplemental complaint was filed by the VACC along with former officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before the Office of the Bar Confidant following the testimony last week of Dayan and daughter Hanna Mae before the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives.
The message read during the house hearing had already been confirmed by de Liima as having sent this through the popular messaging app Viber and directed Dayan to go into hiding instead of honoring a subpoena handed down by congress.
“Senator de Lima’s act blatantly urging Dayan to snub the committee hearings and instead hide in the meantime suggests her disregard of the Rule of Law. What she initiated was obstruction of justice, not to mention that it is a disrespect of a co-equal institution,” VACC chairman Dante Jimenez said.
“She was making a mockery of our justice system which is ironic considering her previous post as Justice Secretary,” he added.
The VACC is likewise asking the Senate to conduct its own investigation on the alleged obstruction of justice issue against de Lima and has called on de Lima to resign.
The VACC together with former NBI officials Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and whistle blower Sandra Cam said de Lima should be disbarred for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The complaint was based on the testimonies of witnesses before the House Committee on Justice’s probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Complianants want de Lima’s name to be struck out from the roll of attorneys. The complainants said de Lima “ knew that which were sold and traded were all prohibited drugs. Sen. de Lima did not only provide protection for the incarcerated drug lords to ensure the proliferation of illegal drug trade, not only inside Bilibid but also from the outside.”
De Lima has three other disbarment cases pending that have been filed in 2012.Private lawyer Agustin Sundiam asked the High Court to take disciplinary action against her and former presidential spokesman Atty. Edwin Lacierda for their utterances and remarks on national television where they called Chief Justice Renato Corona a “lawless tyrant.”
Sundiam said the two secretaries violated their oath as lawyers requiring them to “observe and maintain the respect and dignity due to the courts of justice and judicial offocers.
The other complaints against de Lima were filed separately by lawyers Ricardo Rivera and Fernando Perito, Nephtali Aliposa, both about de Lima’s alleged defiance in following a Supreme Court temporary restraining order issued November 2011 when she stopped former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.