The Senate ethics committee is set to hear various ethics complaints against Sen. Leila de Lima, a leading critic of the Duterte administration.
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd, head of the Senate ethics committee, said the panel has jurisdiction over the raps filed by the leadership of the House of Representatives last month.
“Definitely we have jurisdiction (over the House complaint). I don’t think any member of the committee would say otherwise,” Sotto said.
He explained that the complaint lodged by the House members was based on de Lima’s action when she was already a senator, giving the Senate ethics panel jurisdiction over it.
The House complaint stems from de Lima’s alleged refusal to heed the House justice committee’s invitation to its probe into the proliferation of the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during de Lima’s tenure as Justice secretary. The complaint also alleged that the senator advised her former bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan, to ignore the panel’s summons.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, head of the House justice committee, along with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte, filed the 12-page ethics complaint against de Lima before the Senate in December.
The other complaints against de Lima were filed by lawyer Abelardo de Jesus and Ronillo Pulmano, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).
De Jesus’ complaint was based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech on August 17 last year during the 115th Police Service Anniversary held in Camp Crame, where he accused de Lima of collecting money, through Dayan, from drug lords at the NBP to allegedly fund her senatorial campaign.
Pulmano, meanwhile, wants de Lima expelled from the Senate and tried for treason because of the damage she allegedly caused to OFWs through her statements given to foreign media on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.
In his complaint, Pulmano claimed de Lima’s call for the United Nations “to meddle in our sovereign affairs, raised a concern towards her intention.”
Sotto said he would have to discuss with members of the Senate ethics committee whether the de Jesus and Pulmano complaints would be heard, because these involve acts supposedly committed by de Lima when she was still justice secretary in the previous administration.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a member of the ethics committee, earlier remarked that he might call for the dismissal of the complaint lodged by de Jesus because of lack of jurisdiction.
The ethics committee has enough time to resolve the complaints before Congress adjourns session for the Easter break in March, Sotto said.
Since the members of committee are available and there are no pressing matters, the panel may even resolve the complaints by February, he said.
If the committee finds de Lima guilty, she can either be admonished, reprimanded, suspended and even dismissed from the Senate.
Other members of the committee are Senators Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan 2nd, Risa Hontiveros, Emmanuel Pacquiao and Grace Poe. Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto are ex-officio members.