OUR front-page news item yesterday, “De Lima should not attend Senate hearings – Aguirre” told of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd asking Senator Leila de Lima “to recuse herself from attending the Senate hearings on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary.”
Secretary Aguirre’s reason was that delicadeza, which he did not mention, should prevail in Senator De Lima’s thinking and decision-making. He said the senator should not participate in the proceedings because she is the very person involved in the investigation, along with her former driver-lover Ronnie Dayan and drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
The Justice secretary cited his own example—saying he had inhibited himself from the case filed at the DOJ because he is the chief of the department. He proudly said that even before Senator De Lima asked for his recusal, he already did the right thing. “Di pa nya hinihingi, nag inhibit na ako dito. (Before she asked for it I inhibited myself),” he said.
Similarly, he believes and reminded Senator De Lima that because she is directly involved in the case, she should also inhibit herself from the Senate hearings.
“She should recuse herself. She wanted me to keep my distance from the cases at the DOJ and here she is, participating in the Senate hearings when what is being discussed is her accepting money from drugs,” he said.
Ethically, delicadeza-wise, Justice Secretary Aguirre is, of course correct.
But there is another traditional rule that gives a wide berth for self-preservation to a person who is facing a threat to his or her life. What Senator De Lima is involved in is a struggle to keep herself alive politically and legally.
Before this scandalous case reached its present pass, two witnesses who appeared at the Senate hearing on the proliferation of drugs and the massiveness of the contraband drug trade in our country, testified how she had behaved recklessly while she was the secretary of justice.
She admitted she committed her indiscretions, or what she called “frailties of a woman.” She had placed her life at risk—not just her soul. She could have been done in by the people she had hurt, including the family of the married driver and security guard she had an affair with.
The investigation—in which she has been pinpointed as an alleged participant in or at least a beneficiary of the illegal drugs industry—will lead to a Senate report of the two committees that jointly carried out the hearings. Senator De Lima will surely be mentioned disparagingly, even if the report merely sticks to the narrations made by the witnesses.
De Lima should not be criticized for attending any further Senate hearings. Besides, as a senator she has the right to participate.
However, her fellow honorable senators should not support any move she might make to derail the hearings or silence other witnesses.