By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan
MANILA, Dec. 13 (PNA) — Members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday filed a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against Senator Leila De Lima for ignoring the summons issued by Congress and for instructing her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan to snub the probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali personally filed the complaint against De Lima in DOJ for violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code for disobedience to summons issued by the national assembly, its committee or subcommittees.
”(What we filed) is violation of Article 150 of the revised penal code and DoJ has the jurisdiction since this is a crime under a revised penal code. In essence of the case is about disobedience to summons issued y the national assembly which is Congress and so Senator De Lima advise Dayan to hide and not face the house inquiry that constitutes a violation of Article 150 because she induced Dayan to hide and not to obey the summon of congress particularly of the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives,” Umali told reporters.
Joining Alvarez and Umali as complainant is House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas.
”Correct the impression that were not ganging up on Leila, who used to be my “kumare” and sis (fraternity) but there was nothing I could do but she’s then one who courted these actions. The feeling of Speaker Alvarez that there was disrespect on the House as an Institution, for Congressman Farinas there was disrespect and disregard of the rules of Congress,” Umali explained.
In their complaint, De Lima was invited to attend the Congressional inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP on Sept. 20 and 21 and Oct. 5 and 6.
“Respondent opted to ignore all invitations and failed to attend any of the hearings conducted by the Committee. Worse, respondent even insulted the House of Representative by calling its Committee a kangaroo court/committee and its proceedings a sham,” the complaint stated.
Also in the complaint, a subpoena was also issued to Dayan but it was also ignored. Then, on Oct. 6, after failing to attend the hearing, a show cause order was issued ordering him to explain why he should not be cited for contempt.
Then, on Oct. 10, for issuing the order, he was ordered arrested by Congress.
After Dayan’s arrest, the Congressional inquiry was reopened last month. During the hearing, it was revealed that De Lima instructed Dayan not to appear in Congress. The Senator gave the instruction through a text message to Dayan’s daughter.
“As an incumbent Senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend in the House inquiry for which he was duly summoned is tantamount to inducing disobedience to summons issued by Congress of which she is a sitting member,” the complaint stated.
Violation of Article 150 has a penalty of arresto mayor or one month and 1 day up to six months of imprisonment or a fine ranging from P200 to P1,000 or both (fine and imprisonment).
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II personally received the complaint.
”Unang-una there’s no basis magkaroon ng bias kami, were just here to receive evidence, to receive the complaint. So there’s no reason why we should be biased. In other words just like… we’re going to treat this like just any other case where we will be decide this without fear or favor of anyone,” Aguirre explained.
He added that a single prosecutor will handle the complaint against De Lima.
On Monday, an ethics complaint was also filed by Alvarez before the Senate against De Lima.
De Lima is also facing four complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, and the NBI were stemmed from senator’s alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Aguirre said the DOJ consolidated the four complaints filed against De Lima and 17 others, including former government officials and inmates for their alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP.
The five-man panel, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong, started the preliminary investigation on the case last Dec. 2 to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of case against De Lima and several other respondents.
Ong told the respective lawyers of the respondents to submit their response to the complaints on the hearing of the case set on Dec. 21 at 2:00 p.m.
He said that on Dec. 21, all respondents, including De Lima are required to appear personally before the DoJ to submit their counter-affidavits except for the Bilibid inmates.
It was President Rodrigo R. Duterte who first exposed De Lima as having a hand in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP when she was then Justice Secretary.
The senator, however, has repeatedly denied the allegations claiming that it was part of a demolition job against her. (PNA)