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Sotto fears backlash

Senate Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III has expressed fears that a Senate refusal to answer a House of Representatives request that it should investigate Sen. Leila de Lima over her advice to her former driver and aide Ronnie Dayan not to appear before a House committee hearing has negative repercussions that would affect the relations of the two legislative chambers.

Refusal of both De Lima to answer her conduct and the Senate itself to investigate the lady senator could result in a reversal of the time-honored “parliamentary discourtesy’’ tradition between the two legislative chambers, Sotto said.

Such a “parliamentary discourtesy’’ would have negative effects to Congress as an institution, he explained.

Sotto’s ethics committee has rejected a request of the House to sanction De Lima because of her questioned romantic relationship with Dayan that reportedly violated laws on adultery.

The supposed act, according to Sotto, was committed when she was not yet a senator but as Department of Justice Secretary during the Aquino administration.

Thus, the Senate committee cannot acquire jurisdiction over her, he added.

Sotto had said his committee has to wait for the filing of a complaint against De Lima first before it could begin its investigation and that he should not unilaterally undertake the probe.

But party-list Rep. Harry Roque maintained that it is not only De Lima who is on trial but Congress as an institution.

Roque said he finds it unconscionable for De Lima to advise Dayan through a text message not to attend the House hearing on alleged illegal drug activities at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City because she is member of Senate.

“It is unconscionable for her to continue in office having done something like that,’’ he said.

Roque, however, expressed doubts that De Lima would resign. He cited the case of then US President Richard Nixon who resigned not because of the wiretapping case but the attempt to cover up the wiretapping.

“But the Ethics committee should not wait for anyone to file a complaint with the ethics committee. Any member (of the Senate) can initiate the probe by filing a complaint,’’ he said. (Mario B. Casayuran)