The House of Representatives investigation on allegations the illegal drug trade was run from the national penitentiary is not about Senator Leila De Lima, a congressman leading the probe said Tuesday.
President Rodrigo Duterte has linked De Lima to the illegal drug trade, accusing her former driver of collecting money from detained drug lords during her tenure as justice secretary.
"This is not about Sen. Leila De Lima who is my sister in her sorority Lambda Rho Sigma and this is really the issue on the proliferation of drug syndicates in the NBP," Oriental Mindoro Rep. and House justice committee chairman Reynaldo Umali said at the beginning of the inquiry.
Umali is a member of San Beda College of Law's Lambda Rho Sigma, which is the counterpart of De Lima's sorority Lambda Rho Beta. He is leading the probe on the alleged illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima refused to attend Tuesday's hearing, which she called a "sham." On Monday, she was removed as chairman of a Senate committee investigating Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
But Umali said the goal of the hearing was to come up with legislation or a directive to appropriate agencies.
"I would like to disabuse the mind of my sis that this is a sham hearing and [that this] a kangaroo committee," he said.