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‘No to slut-shaming’

Robredo hits out at House in defense of De Lima

VICE President Leni Robredo on Friday lashed out at Congress for harassing Senator Leila de Lima over her past affair with her ex-bodyguard and alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan.

Some questions asked of Dayan during the House committee on justice hearing Thursday were irrelevant and unnecessary to the congressional inquiry into the illegal drug trade, Robredo said, noting that some of the questions about the love affair were simply malicious.

Lawmakers must set a good example in respecting women, Robredo added, otherwise, ordinary citizens would feel they had a license to do otherwise.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS. Vice President Leni Robredo joins the Philippine Commission on Women staff in a photo op during the 2016 18-day campaign to end violence against women kick-off activity Friday at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City aimed at raising awarenesss among all stakeholders that such violence is a public issue of national concern. Norman Cruz

“I checked [the news] online to know the questions asked. [Those questions] seem totally unnecessary and malicious at some point. Such must have no place in an institution that we respect,” Robredo said.

She said it was not only De Lima who was harassed, but women in general.

“If we follow closely the line of questioning, we can see that some [questions] had no relevance in the investigation being conducted. It seemed what was happening then was just slut-shaming,” she added.

Two women senators also spoke up against congressmen who seemed to show an undue interest in the love affair between De Lima and Dayan.

Speaking during Friday’s “Women in Business Breakfast Forum” organized by the Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Senator Grace Poe admitted she was upset with a lot of questions, which she said tended toward voyeurism.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the House had hit a new low point when it reopened its investigation into the narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Poe and Hontiveros rejected the assertion of House members that the House inquiry was in aid of legislation. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • 2 women-senators chime in, liken inquiry to public lynching
  • Senate Liberals chide House members for unparliamentary behavior
  • Party-list lawmaker wants De Lima to resign and save Congress from embarassment

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“We understand that a lot of things have to be investigated but I think that the details of certain personal affairs should not have been discussed,” said Poe. 

Hontiveros described the House hearing as a “public lynching” in aid of misogyny and sexism. 

She said the intention of the members of the House committee on justice was clear, and slammed them for being “grossly unparliamentary.”

“Their derogatory line of questioning did not aim to shed light on the issue of the drug trade in our prisons. They were meant to humiliate and shame Senator De Lima for her association with a certain man, or her past relationship,” Hontiveros said.

“It is very frustrating that in this day and age, the integrity and reputation of women can be undermined by unreasonable, traditional and conservative expectations of women’s conduct in romantic and even sexual relationships,” she added.

“It is even more shameful that this nation’s supposed leaders, elected representatives of the Filipino people, made the shaming of women a political strategy and a spectacle in the ‘honorable’ chambers of Congress.”

The dishonorable behavior of lawmakers reinforced the “despicable culture” that has led to a surge in the number of sexual harassment cases against women, both online and off, she said.

She urged Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to rein in the members of the House and stop them from resorting to sexist and misogynistic attacks against another elected public official. 

“If they are confident that they have real and tangible evidence against Senator De Lima, then let the evidence speak for itself. That is the only way for the House to recover from this plunge into new and unparalleled lows,” she said.

In a statement issued Thursday night in reaction to the House hearing, De Lima said “no woman, whoever or whatever she may be, whether a sitting senator or a humble secretary, deserves to be betrayed, to be treated with so much disrespect and without dignity, before the public eye, by any man she is with or had a relationship with.”

“As a woman, it breaks my heart that my private life and personal relationship have become subject of the public and Congress’ ridicule,” she added.

In last Thursday’s hearing, lawmakers took turns prying into the past romantic relationship between Dayan and De Lima. They asked questions like how the relationship started, the intensity of their love for each other, what they did, where they went, and how they called each other when they were alone, and if they had ever made a sex video.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon, meanwhile, said the House cannot proceed against a member of another chamber without violating the principles of co-equality and inter-chamber courtesy.

In a statement, Drilon and other members of the Liberal Party to which De Lima belongs, said the correct procedure was for the House to bring their show-cause order before the entire Senate, not to just one senator.

Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Paolo Benigno Aquino IV also slammed some members of the House for their unparliamentary behavior during Thursday’s hearing.

During that hearing, the House panel ordered De Lima to show cause why she should not be held in contempt by advising Dayan to go into hiding to evade testifying before the committee on justice.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III earlier said the Senate had its own rules, and that the ethics committee was the one tasked to investigate erring members of the chamber.

He bristled at the House trying to tell the Senate what to do.

This did not stop Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza from urging De Lima to resign “to save Congress as an institution from embarrassment” and urging Pimentel to do the same to “protect the Senate.”

“Secretary de Lima should not hold on to her post. She should immediately resign and concentrate on defending herself in court. With Kerwin Espinosa’s and Ronnie Dayan’s testimonies, she has run out of time,” Atienza said.

Atienza said the testimonies of the drug lords during the congressional hearings and the additional statements of Espinosa and Dayan are more than enough reason to recommend the filing of charges. 

“It’s mind-boggling that a Justice secretary would be involved in the collection of drug money. And most telling of all is the shameful slapping incident narrated by Dayan when he found out she was two-timing him,” Atienza said.

“She said that if proven right, she will resign. I say—No Madame Senator. If proven right, you should rot in jail,” Atienza added.

Topics: Leni Robredo , Leila de Lima , Ronnie Dayan , Congress , House committee on justice hearing , Illegal drug trade , Risa Hontiveros , Grace Poe , Women in Business Breakfast Forum , Australia-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce
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