House to file ethics case vs De Lima over drug probe snub

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2016 11:26 AM | Updated as of Dec 12 2016 02:23 PM

Senator Leila de Lima. Voltaire Domingo/NPPA Images

MANILA - The House of Representatives is set to file an ethics complaint against Senator Leila De Lima on Monday for discouraging her former driver and alleged bagman, Ronnie Dayan, from testifying at a congressional inquiry into the supposed Bilibid drug trade.

House Justice Committee Chair Umali said he, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Fariñas will file the ethics case before the Senate anytime after 2 p.m. today.

He said the senator will also face a charge for violating Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code before the Department of Justice.

Umali said having the highest leaders of the House file the case is an act of courtesy towards De Lima?.

"This is the way the House of Representatives show their courtesy to a co-equal chamber when no less than the head of the House will go to Senate and file the complaint himself together with the majority leader and chair of the committee on justice," Umali said in a phone interview on ANC's "Dateline Philippines."

He added that De Lima's "disrespect" of the House of Representatives led them to finally decide to file the case.

"Up to the last minute we were hoping that Senator De Lima would accord the House of Representatives a little bit of courtesy," he said.

De Lima earlier said she was merely protecting herself from “persecution” when she advised Dayan against appearing at the probe.

Umali said the case is solely based on the text message De Lima sent to Dayan and believes that it is "more than enough" proof.

"I think it is more than enough because it is not only a violation of our rules. It is also a violation of… it is also a criminal act," he said.

The senator left the country on Sunday to receive an award in the US and to speak before the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin.

De Lima assured the public that she will return to the country after her official travel on December 22.

-- Reports from Robert Mano, DZMM; RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News