MANILA - The Senate Ethics Committee has decided to look into the ethics complaint lodged against Senator Leila De Lima in connection with her supposed role in illegal drug trade that was first made public via President Rodrigo Duterte's drug matrix.
[READ: Duterte's 'drugs matrix' tags De Lima, others ]
Senate Ethics Committee Chair Senator Tito Sotto said they will have to determine first whether the complaint filed by a certain Abelardo De Jesus against the former Justice secretary is sufficient in form and substance.
Committee members have also agreed to look for a general counsel who will assist members of the Senate Ethics Committee in tackling the complaint.
When pressed for details, Sotto said the committee agreed to keep the proceedings private.
"It might be premature publicity. We'd rather to keep it confidential," Sotto said.
De Lima said she is leaving the matter up to her colleagues, but also pointed out that it was another form of harassment from her critics.
"Marami na silang ginagawang harassment hindi ko lang sinasabi kasi ayaw ko muna po [They have been harassing me but I don't want to speak for now]," De Lima said.
She also said she has not seen a copy of the complaint.
"Maybe they are trying to break my spirit, but they will never succeed," De Lima said.
[READ: De Lima vows to press on in battle with Duterte ]
Under the Senate rules, the respondent should be given a copy of the complaint so she can answer the allegations.
By a vote of two-thirds of the entire membership, the Senate can opt to reprimand, suspend for a maximum of sixty calendar days, or expel a Senator.
Sotto underscored that the alleged offense committed by a senator must be a continuing offense.