A criminal complaint was filed yesterday against Sen. Leila M. de Lima before the Department of Justice for disobeying the summons to appear before the House of Representatives and explain her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City while she was Justice Secretary.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II personally received the complaint.
“There was disrespect and disregard of the rules of Congress. Hindi lang ‘yung House of Representatives, even the rules of Senate,” said Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House Committee on Justice, who filed the complaint together with House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez and House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas for violating Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code.
It penalizes “disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees, or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees, or divisions” and “any person who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official.”
Umali said De Lima also violated Article 150 of the RPC when she told Dayan to ignore the summons to appear before the House and explain his ties to the illegal drugs trade at the NBP. “She induced Ronnie Dayan to hide and not to obey the summons of Congress, particularly of the Justice Commitee of the House of Representatives,” Umali said.
The House Committee on Justice invited De Lima and Dayan to attend its hearings but neither of them came. Because of this, the House cited Dayan for contempt and issued an arrest warrant against him.
Umali lamented that De Lima not only shunned the hearing but also called it a “kangaroo court” which he called was too much. “We would like to announce to the world Congress deserves the respect of anyone, including a senator,” he said.
De Lima said yesterday that the criminal and ethics complaint filed by House leaders against her were nothing but an attempt to “save face.”
“The House leaders’ move to file complaints against me at the Senate Ethics Committee and at the Department of Justice is nothing but an attempt to save face after the House inquiry on the Bilibid drug trade was exposed to be all of a farce,” De Lima who is abroad said in a statement.
The House filed an ethics complaint against De Lima before the Senate Ethics and Privileges Committee for interfering in the House Justice Committee’s probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP.
De Lima reiterated that as former Commission on Human Rights chairperson, DoJ Secretary, and now senator, she would never break her oath as a public servant. (Jeffrey G. Damicog and Hannah L. Torregoza)