The prurient House probe of Senator De Lima


The word to describe what the House of Representatives did last week in its inquiry into the alleged drug dealings of Sen. Leila De Lima is “prurient.”

Officialdom and the media groped for a week for a word or words to describe what had transpired. Vice-president Leni Robredo, who was unusually active and interested in what happened, offered two words, “harassment” and “slut-shaming.” Her objective was to defend a member of her sex from abuses, but her word choice unfortunately had the effect of labeling de Lima a slut. Others more bluntly said the probe was lascivious.

A wit here at the Times has suggested that we should apply to the House proceedings the word “kahindik-hindik,” which an over-zealous former chair of the Commission on Audit used to describe the alleged pork-barrel corruption uncovered by a Senate inquiry some years back. But after a word search, we could not find the word in any known Filipino dictionary. We will ask if the word is part of the lexicon of the audit commission.

We think “prurient” is the word that can bring things back to normal, good sense back into the public conversation.

Oxford dictionary defines “prurent,” an adjective, as “having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters, especially the sexual activity of others.” Prurience is the noun form of the word.

(Oxford dates the word’s origin to the late 16th century and says it is derived from the Latin adjective prurient—itching, longing and “being wanton” and the verb prurire.)

What must be said of our House legislators at the inquiry is that they exhibited a prurient curiousity about Senator De Lima’s extra-marital affair with her driver-bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan. They were not content to take the liaison as fact, they wanted the witness to provide details – the more salacious, the better.

The questioning went berserk, when one congressman asked Dayan to describe the intensity level of ther love affair, comparing it to the intensity level of an earthquake or the signal rating of a typhoon.

When the inquiry delved into Dayan’s jealousy over the senator’s affair with two other lover-bodyguards, the House was aghast at its own discovery.

It finally started to dawn on some legislators that they had strayed way past the whole point of the inquiry, which was to probe for facts about the senator’s alleged dealings with and acceptance of payoffs from drug lords incarcerated at the new Bilibid penitentiary.

There is no defense for the entire line of questioning adopted by the presumably honorable members of the House. In acting thus, they damaged not just themselves in front of a live national TV audience; they inflicted damage on the prestige and honor of the House.

In our view, what happened at the House probe was an instructive lesson on how a congressional inquiry can get out of control because of the failure of the committee chairman to exercise good judgment and responsibility in steering the inquiry. He permitted it to become an “anything-goes” inquisition.

What is the cure for prurience?

We recall to the House and the public the cautionary saying, “curiosity killed the cat.”

Prurient curiosity in the House probe of de Lima may have damaged the chamber far more than the most guilty legislators realize. The stain smirched every House member. Let no one be in doubt about that.


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  1. From her own admission, there is no denying the fact that De Lima used her position of authority over her much younger men employees to sexually harasses them to satisfy her needs. They have no alternative but comply if they want to keep their jobs. She caused her own problems and deserves what she is now getting.

  2. Call the House probe prurient or by any other name, the main point is it serves De Lima right; she simply reaped what she has planted. The article above just helped sidetracked the central issue of a DOJ Secretary involved herself in an illicit love affair and had used the guy in her alleged illegal drug trade dealings.

  3. The jealousy angle could actually work against these sex-starved tongressmen as this would give Dayan a motive to make up stories to destroy Delima. Proves that too much probing is bad for you

  4. The quality of the candidates for elective office in the Philippines does not look good when things like this are aired. There must be better people out there somewhere?

  5. Maribel A. Calanda on

    I find nothing wrong with the lines of questioning by our honorable Congressmen. Those are essential and part of Dayan’s life.. Dayan was arrested but can be seen as lying when it comes to illegal drug trade activities. The only truth that he wants to talk about is De Lima. Besides the committee has already submitted the report to plenary. The public was entertained, only the few hypocrites cried foul. Have you ever thought about Mrs. Dayan? No one comes to her rescue. The Yellowtards should rescue Mrs. Dayan instead. De Lima deserves to be humiliated with her sexual desires to be in bed with married men. Nakakahiya talaga si De Lima most especially when Ronnie Dayan was asked about the video tape. He replied this ” wala po akong ginagawang video kapag nag se- sex kami.”. Apparently the word sex was used by Dayan himself, easily portraying De Lima as a very immoral woman.

  6. The purpose of the House of Rep. Is to enact laws in response to inquiries re: De Lima. What I saw are congressmen that are asking questions regararding Dayan sex life with De Lima . They did not concentrate on the drug money given. In my opinion, these congressmen are a bunch is sex maniacs. They should not be lawmakers. If DeLima and Dayan had an affair, so be it. Do not ask what intensity their love making is. That is not their business.

  7. vagoneto rieles on

    It’s hard to see how the methods of the good Congressmen advanced the case against Senator Delima. Neither is it reassuring that their line of questioning aided any legislative purpose.
    The fact is…Delima’s ‘goose is cooked’. She’s done; finished as a Senator or as any kind of government functionary. The lewd,obscene, and smutty voyeurism resorted to by the good Congressmen was unnecessary. It served only to expose their real selves…bawdy, coarse and bullying show-offs. Oddly enough, among thinking people, the accused Delima came out to be the bigger of the whole bunch…even if she did ‘cook her own goose’.

  8. Sir!
    Is it true, that you didn’t find the word “hindik” in any dictionary?
    Here the definition in John U. Wolff’s “A Dictionary of Cebuano Visayan”:

    hindik a neat, orderly, clean. Hindik siyang mamistibisti,
    She dresses neat and trim. v [A; a1] make s.t. neat and
    trim. Hindíka ang kwartu kay nagkalamúkat lang,
    Straighten up the room because it’s a mess. pa-, paN- v 1
    [A; c6] make oneself neat, clean. Dugáya sad nímung
    manghindik (magpahindik) uy, My! How long it takes you
    to get yourself ready! 2 primp oneself up. n cosmetics. -an
    a tending to keep oneself neat.

    Yours sincerely
    Heiko Eckard, GenSan

  9. In finding out the truth from a person, it is okay to put a question where the subject is presumably not comfortable with. This is one way of testing if he’s telling the truth. Just like they say, there should be
    no stones left unturned. And besides, interpretation from the observers where obviously full of malice.
    Act like a matured person, you should be being a public official….