Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III slammed the House of Representatives for imposing on the Senate the actions that should be taken regarding Senator Leila de Lima.
“We have our own rules also in the Senate. Rule of law tayo,” Pimentel said in a press briefing in the Senate.
“But you know for a member of the House to tell the Senate to do something, ibalik ko siguro sa kanila, ibalik ko sa House, ‘do your thing first, before you ask us to do something,’” he said.
This is Pimentel’s reply to Kabayan Representative Harry Roque who called for the removal of De Lima from office after allegedly preventing her former driver and bodyguard from giving his testimony at a hearing held at the House of Representatives.
“If this lady senator will not voluntarily resign from her post after this revelation, I hope our colleagues in the Senate will protect the integrity of Congress of the Philippines,” Roque said on the House hearing on Thursday.
Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s former aide, claimed that De Lima’s instruction to not attend the House’s hearing about the senator’s alleged involvement with the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison was passed to him through De Lima’s daughter.
Pimentel acknowledged that it is possible to charge De Lima with indirect contempt but only after being heard and proven in a “mini-trial” at the House.
“So if they have not conducted a mini-trial yet, how come they want the Senate to act as if there’s a final determination of actual facts?” he said.
The Senate President also said that they shouldn’t be “too excited” without doing the proper procedures.
“Let’s not be too excited. Let the House do what they have to do. Observe procedure, process, then give the Senate official result of the findings,” he said.
“We’re still in this situation, then how come there’s a member of Congress telling the Senate what to do when the House has not even heard the incident, has not even charged her with anything, has not even come up with a final finding or order? Very premature kaya let’s not be too excited about this,” he added.
Pimentel said that one way for the issue to reach the Senate is through an ethics complaint against De Lima. The jurisdiction would be under the Senate, however, no complaint has been filed yet.
“Yes, but there is no complaint. I am not even member of the ethics committee but let them answer that question. When the complaint comes, we have to answer—do we have jurisdiction or not? Is the act grave enough to merit investigation. After investigation, did she really commit the act?” the Senate President said.
Senate President Pimentel was also asked if the drug allegations against Senator De Lima was affecting the integrity of the Senate, to which he answered no.
“There are 24 senators, we have our own lives, we have our own actions. Some probably beat a red light or cross the no pedestrian crossing zones, kasalanan ba ng Senado ‘yan?”