THE Senate ethics committee on Tuesday dumped the cases filed against two opposition senators and a member of the majority bloc in the Senate due to various reasons.
Cleared of ethics charges were Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV, both strong critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Due to lack of jurisdiction, the committee led by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III unanimously approved Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s motion dismissing the case filed by House leaders and the two cases filed by Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque and lawyer Abelardo de Jesus against De Lima.
The complaints against De Lima stemmed from her alleged advice to her former bodyguard/driver Ronnie Dayan not to attend the House investigation into her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.
In seeking the dismissal of De Lima’s cases, Drilon cited her pending cases in courts and the committee’s lack of jurisdiction over the alleged violations.
“She did not violate Senate rules and it is not related to De Lima’s official function. We moved for the dismissal of the case without prejudice to reviving the case in the future,” Drilon told the Senate panel.
Lacson seconded Drilon’s motion, saying De Lima did not violate any Senate rule and was not performing her duty as a senator when she supposedly gave the advice to Dayan.
“We can act on it right here, right now. The rules are clear,” Lacson said.
“She has not violated any Senate rule nor it is related to an official act as a senator so on that note. If there’s a motion, I will support to outrightly dismiss the case against De Lima as filed by our counterparts in the House.”
Senator Gringo Honasan also backed the dismissal of the charges against De Lima “in the spirit of humanity.”
“What else can we do to Senator De Lima?” Honasan said.
De Lima is detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame over drug charges.
Sotto had earlier objected to the dismissal of the charges against De Lima and recommended to archive them. He mentioned the possibility that the criminal case against De Lima might prosper.
But the committee gave its nod to Drilon to dismiss the charges without prejudice to refiling them or to filing a new complaint against De Lima
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House Committee on Justice chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali filed in December 2016 the complaint against De Lima whom they claimed “clearly interfered” in the House inquiry into the alleged illegal trade inside Bilibid.
“This is a clear case of contempt of the power and authority vested in the House of Representatives,” the House leaders said in a statement.
The complaint was based on De Lima’s alleged attempt to prevent her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan from attending a congressional probe.
Dayan earlier told the House justice committee that De Lima advised him to snub the invitation of the panel in relation to its investigation on the prison drug trade.
The panel also dismissed De Jesus’ complaint that was based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s allegations that De Lima was involved in drug operations when she was Justice secretary..
De Lima welcomed the dismissal of her cases. She will mark on Feb. 24 her first year of detention.
“I thank my colleagues for standing up for reason and the clear provision of the rules. It is now evident, as I’ve always maintained, that the cases filed against me were frivolous and were merely filed to harass me,” De Lima said.
“I hope that somehow I have proven my doubters and detractors wrong. From the very start, I have always kept my innocence and in due time, hopefully soon, I will be vindicated from all the fabricated charges, especially the drug cases, filed against me.”