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‘Resign or be removed’

  • Written by Jester P. Manalastas
  • Published in Top Stories
  • Read: 461

FOR obstructing a legislative inquiry, Senator Leila de Lima was urged to resign or be removed from office.

Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque made a manifestation calling for the Senate to take action against De Lima if she will not resign from her post.

Testifying before the House Committee on Justice, De Lima’s bodyguard and driver Ronnie Dayan told the panel that the senator prevented him from attending the House inquiry because they would be embarrassed.

According to Roque, De Lima became guilty of a contumacious act when she prevented the appearance of a key witness in an investigation being held in aid of legislation.

“Aside from being contumacious, the lady senator has also accused this committee of everything from being a witch hunt to being a kangaroo court, only to find out that she herself caused this witness not to appear and heed our earlier invitations and summons,” Roque stressed.
   
Roque appealed to his colleagues in the Senate to take the necessary actions against De Lima who was being linked to drug operations.
   
“Although we have the power to cite her in contempt—we probably will not because of inter-parliamentary courtesy—but despite this courtesy, I hope our colleagues in the Senate will realize the seriousness of what we have today documented, a lady senator, a sitting senator preventing the appearance of a key witness in a legislative investigation as part really of concealing the truth,” Roque said.
   
Roque said De Lima has to resign not because of an illegal act per se but because of the cover up of an illegal act—for fear of embarrassment.
   
“I hope our colleagues in the Senate will protect the integrity of Congress of the Philippines, consisting of two houses, and in fact remove her from her current position, that is, if they want to maintain the integrity of Congress of the Republic of the Philippines,” the solon said.
   
Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas pointed out that De Lima’s action is a clear violation of Congress rules and that the committee may punish any person violating them.
   
Farinas said that De Lima committed undue interference in the conduct of legislative hearing.

Contempt
   
Shunting inter-parliamentary courtesy members of the justice committee called for asking De Lima to explain why she should not be cited in contempt.
   
No one objected when ABS party-list Rep. Eugene De Vera moved for issuing a show-cause order to De Lima.
   
It was also noted that she tried to prevent Dayan from testifying before the committee.
   
“Is there any objection? The chair hears none, the same is hereby approved,” Umali said.
   
Umali approved the motion despite reminding colleagues of inter-parliamentary courtesy.
   
“So, I think, you know, there is a motion and I think this is a matter that ought to be acted upon because what prevails upon the two chambers is actually inter-parliamentary courtesy,” Umali said.
   
“And when you say inter-parliamentary courtesy, this is just a courtesy that you ought to give to a co-equal body. Unfortunately, there was really something that…there was discourtesy in the fact that perhaps telling a witness not to appear here is something that really violates it,” he added.