THE chairman of the House Committee on Justice yesterday said the alleged sex videos of Sen. Leila de Lima have no value, until they pass forensic authentication.
“Kapag hinirit iyan ng DoJ (Department of Justice), aalamin muna natin ano ba purpose ng pag-presinta ng video na iyan. Assuming mai-explain nila na germane to the subject of (the inquiry), iyan ba ay authenticated na?” Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the panel chairman, told Rowena Salvacion’s Buena Manong Balita radio morning program over dzBB yesterday.
“Dahil kapag hindi authenticated ‘yan walang probative value iyan. So bakit natin papanoorin ‘yan?” Umali asked.
“Kung hindi (ma-authenticate,) sandali muna walang bisa iyan. Walang probative value iyan ‘ika nga,” said Umali, adding that forensic examination can be done by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Philippine National Police's (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
But as panel chairman, Umali said he will divide the committee should his colleagues upon request of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II move for the showing of the alleged De Lima sex videos with the expected opposition from other lawmakers.
At the same time, Umali admitted that there will be a backlash should his panel decide to play the sex videos when they resume its hearing on October 6 from its original October 5 schedule.
“Posible, posibleng may backlash kasi ngayon pa lang ay ang dami nang nagsasalita [para tumutol], pati mga kasamahan namin (at) pati mga senador,” said Umali, adding that the playing of alleged sex videos of De Lima is being discussed by the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao, a member of the House Committee on Justice, said the signature drive that she and other congresswomen launched last Friday against the showing of the purported sex videos has now the support of at least 48 lawmakers, including 13 congressmen, and counting, who believe that the plan is highly improper.
‘Charge De Lima now’
House Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (Buhay) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza yesterday said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II should now file charges against Sen. Leila de Lima and others as he urged to end the investigation by the House Committee on Justice, stressing it has begun losing its focus with the House leadership’s support for the viewing of the alleged sex videos of the senator during the hearing’s resumption this week.
Atienza said the House of Representatives should now focus on its legislative agenda and let Aguirre to do his job.
After two hearings, Atienza said he was convinced that indeed syndicates behind illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) allegedly proliferated during the stint of De Lima as secretary of justice.
Atienza asked Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who chairs the House Committee on Justice, to stop the probe that will resume on October 6 and recommend immediate necessary legislation to address the problem at NBP.
“Let us draft the needed legislation now and stop the investigation because clearly after two hearings, (it became clear) syndicates behind illegal drugs proliferated inside the NBP during De Lima’s time at DoJ. We have to give her (De Lima) the chance to answer the charges before proper venue,” Atienza explained.
“Problema na ng Department of Justice (DoJ) ang pagsasampa ng mga reklamo at sila na ang sumagot sa taong-bayan kung sakaling hindi pa rin sila handa hanggang sa ngayon,” Atienza said.
He reiterated his position to block the showing of alleged sex videos of De Lima for being immaterial and unnecessary to the probe, adding he made his position even before the militant Makabayan bloc led by Gabriela party-list group and some women legislators came out in public to oppose the viewing of the purported sex videos.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, head of the Legitimate 8 or the genuine minority bloc, reiterated his stand that the courts are the proper venue for trying De Lima for alleged ties to drug lords.
“If the administration is so sure that De Lima is involved in drugs and the alleged drug trade at the Bilibid, then the Executive should just file the proper charges in court. There, we have the mechanisms to make sure that her innocence is protected or her guilt proven," said Baguilat.
"It is not Congress's job to prosecute these cases, and Congress should not allow itself to be a venue for trial by publicity to cover up for the Executive's inability to get a proper case to court,"
Baguilat said. "Congress should have better things to do with its time than waste the people's money and satisfy vile interests."