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Senate panel pushes probe vs De Lima

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(Photo from the official Facebook page of Sen. Leila De Lima | @leiladelimaofficial)


PASAY CITY ― A senate panel  will push through with the probe against Sen. Leila de Lima based on the complaints that she barred her former security aide and alleged drug money bagman Ronnie Dayan from appearing before the congressional probe into illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).


Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, said the committee will be consolidating the complaints filed by lawyer Abelardo De Jesus and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.


These complaints stated that De Lima violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code by disobeying a summon issued by a co-equal chamber, the House of Representative, to attend the said congressional probe.


Sotto said that these complaints had “form and substance” because they happened when De Lima was already senator.


He said that De Lima will have 15 days to reply to the complaints upon her receipt.


House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez welcomed the decision of the Senate Ethics Committee.


"The decision of the Senate Ethics Committee finding our complaint against Sen. Leila De Lima sufficient in form and substance is a welcome development," said Alvarez in a statement.


Alvarez said the panel’s finding shows that the House leadership has sufficient basis to accuse De Lima of contempt for committing an unparliamentary act and violating existing laws.


"Now she can no longer hide behind innuendos and accusations that the House leadership is out to persecute her. She has to give valid and convincing answers to our allegation or face sanction from her own peers for violation of the law and unparliamentary acts," said Alvarez."


Meanwhile, De Lima has filed a petition before the Court of Appeals to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from acting on the drug trafficking complaints filed against her in connection to her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.


In a 46-page petition for prohibition and certiorari with prayers for the issuance of an injunction, De Lima said she decided to seek the intervention of the appellate court due to the numerous violations committed by the DOJ panel of prosecutors that conducted the preliminary investigation that purportedly violated her right to due process.


“On serious jurisdictional questions and strong due process issues, petitioner Leila M. De Lima comes to this Honorable Court asserting her constitutionally and statutorily guaranteed rights against the onslaught of violations committed primarily by the public respondent panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice handling the preliminary investigation of the cases against her. She humbly invokes the power of this Honorable Court to correct the serious errors of jurisdiction made by the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors, which include but are not limited to, issuing verbal and unrecorded rulings, refusing to put these rulings in writing, denying petitioner‘s right to file her counter-affidavit, and submitting the cases for decision without first resolving petitioner’s motions to endorse the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman in view of lack of jurisdiction of the DOJ, and to inhibit themselves in light of the institutional bias and partiality of the said Department,” De Lima said in her plea.


She said the Office of the Ombudsman has the sole jurisdiction to conduct an investigation on offenses cognizable by the Sandiganbayan.


De Lima said even if she has been accused of violating the Anti-Drugs Law, it has to be determined still if the alleged offenses were committed in relation to her former position as justice secretary.


“Hence, as the charges against petitioner are all within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, pursuant to Section 4 of PD No. 1606, as amended, and over which the Office of the Ombudsman has primary and exclusive jurisdiction to investigate, in view of Section 15 (1) of RA No. 6770, the instant cases should be endorsed to the Office of the Ombudsman,” the petition stated.


De Lima stressed that the lack of a written order, minute resolution, constancia, transcript of record, or even audio recording of the Dec. 21, 2016 hearing appear to be intentional and designed to prevent her from complying with the requirements of Rule 65 on attaching a certified true copy of the questioned rulings.


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