House gives De Lima 72 hours to answer show-cause order
MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on justice on Tuesday, November 29, served a show-cause order on Senator Leila de Lima for allegedly advising a witness to skip a congressional inquiry.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, who chairs the justice committee conducting the probe into the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when De Lima was justice secretary, served the order through Senate secretary Lutgardo Barbo before noontime on Tuesday.
"After due deliberation, the Committee resolved to issue a Show-Cause Order directed against you for unduly interfering with an on-going investigation, in aid of legislation, conducted by the Committee," read the order signed by Umali.
"In this regard, you are hereby ordered to explain, within seventy-two (72) hours from receipt of this Order, why you should not be held in contempt for exerting undue influence to Mr Ronnie Palisoc Dayan," it added.
Umali cited as proof the exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan's daughter, Hannah Mae, presented at the House hearing on November 24.
The text messages supposedly proved that De Lima directed Dayan, who had been subpoenaed by the House panel, "to defy a valid coercive process issued by the Committee, thereby causing undue interference in the conduits of its proceedings during the hearings where his attendance was required."
"Should you fail or refuse to comply with this Order, the Committee will be constrained to take appropriate actions which may include the possibility of citing you in contempt under Section 11 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives," the order said.
The House justice committee had earlier ordered Dayan's arrest after he failed to appear at the hearing.
Following his arrest, Dayan was presented at the congressional inquiry where he alleged that De Lima urged him not to attend it because lawmakers would just "feast" on their relationship as part of the Duterte administration's alleged bid to destroy her reputation.
Dayan had also accused De Lima of ordering him to collect money from alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, which the senator denied. Dayan said he was unaware how much money he collected, but Espinosa, in a separate testimony, claimed it was P8 million. (READ: A can of contradictions in Ronnie Dayan's testimony)
Fariñas, who was at the Senate with other House leaders for the bicameral conference on the proposed 2017 national budget, said in an interview with reporters that the House will wait for De Lima's reply before it makes its next move.
He said if De Lima fails to give a satisfactory response, they would file an ethics complaint against her before the Senate and a case before the Supreme Court for alleged violation of the lawyers' canon.
Asked if the House would seek De Lima's dismissal as senator, Fariñas said: "Bahala na ang Senate kung ano ang sanctions (We will leave it up to the Senate what sanctions would be imposed). But we will ask that they enforce disciplinary action on their member who has committed a contemptuous act against the House and committed a crime."
He said De Lima, a lawyer and a senator who was in a relationship with Dayan, "exerted influence" on the latter who was "a high school graduate."
The House filed the order a day after Senate and House leaders agreed to avoid a potential clash over the De Lima issue. (READ: No arrest warrant vs De Lima? Senate, House agree to avoid clash)
De Lima is already facing two ethics complaints, and complaints before the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman over the drug allegations. – Rappler.com