MANILA - A day after filing its third complaint before the Senate Ethics Committee against embattled Senator Leila De Lima, the House of Representatives (HOR), through its leaders, filed a similar complaint for violation of the Revised Penal Code against the lawmaker with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The complaint filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and Justice Committee chairman Reynaldo Umali is in connection with De Lima's advise to former lover and driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan to snub the HOR probe into the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) illegal drug trade, where De Lima supposedly directed high-profile inmates to sell huge volumes of methamphetamine hydrochloride ("shabu") to fund her senatorial campaign.
The four-page complaint charged De Lima with violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), which pertains to "disobedience to summons issued by the National Assembly, its committees or subcommittees, by the Constitutional Commissions, its committees, subcommittees or divisions."
The same article also provides that "[t]he same penalty shall be imposed upon any person who shall restrain another from attending as a witness, or who shall induce disobedience to a summon or refusal to be sworn by any such body or official."
"As an incumbent Senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend and/or appear in the House Inquiry for which he was duly summoned is tantamount to inducing disobedience to summons issued by Congress, of which she is a sitting member," the complaint read.
The complaint cited the following exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan's daughter, Hannah Mae, revealed during the HOR hearing on November 24, 2016, when the Justice Committee reopened its inquiry following Dayan's arrest in Brgy. San Felipe, San Juan, La Union:
"Hannah Mae: Hi Tita. Good pm po. Mi pinapatanong po si pah. Mo baket daw po mi dumating na supwena sa kanya at ano daw po ggawin nia?
Respondent: Pakisabi sa kanya magtago lang muna siya… Kagagawan yan nila Speaker Alvarez at dikta ni Digong. Pagpipyestahan lang siya at kaming dalawa kapag mag-appear siya sa hearing na yan
Hannah Mae: Hindi naman po ba siya huhulihin kapag hindi siya pumunta?
Respondent: Di ba nagtatago naman siya?"
In a news conference following the filing of the complaint, Umali also scored De Lima for calling the House inquiry a sham proceeding and "kangaroo court."
On the part of the DOJ, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre gave the assurance that the complaint will be handled "without fear or favor."
Other complaints are pending with the department against De Lima, Dayan, and several others for violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, still in connection with the NBP illegal drug trade.
De Lima accused the partymates and allies of President Duterte of persecuting her for hitting hard on the President's war on drugs.