The Senate committee on ethics failed to resolve on Tuesday, September 13, the question of jurisdiction over the complaint filed against neophyte Senator Leila de Lima regarding her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
Lawyer Abelardo de Jesus asked the ethics committee to investigate de Lima on the basis of the allegation of President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech on August 17 that de Lima received money collected from drug lords operating at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City through Ronnie Dayan, the senator’s former driver and alleged lover.
Sen. Vicente Sotto set the next hearing on Thursday, Sept, 15, to resolve the issue of jurisdiction over de Lima’s case.
During the committee’s initial hearing on Tuesday, Senate President Pro-tempore Franklin Drilon argued that the issue of jurisdiction be resolved ahead of the determination of sufficiency in form and substance of the complaint.
“Does this fall under our jurisdiction? As correctly pointed out, this may be on the basis of the complaint that it’s based on acts which were allegedly done prior to the respondent being a senator,” Drilon pointed out.
He expounded on the provision of the rules of the committee which covers unethical or acts of misbehavior done during the incumbency of the senator.
“So will the determination of the form and substance include this jurisdiction issue? This issue is primordial and should be decided first even before form and substance is decided,” Drilon said.
Drilon, chairman of the Liberal Party that counts de Lima as a member, described the ethics committee hearing as “adversarial.”
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson presented a contrary view, supporting Sotto that the determination for form and substance be voted ahead.
“We have to decide first on the complaint’s sufficiency in form and substance. That’s the root of the complaint. It is the primary consideration that we have to look into before we consider jurisdiction,” Lacson said.
Lawyer Karen Jimeno, general counsel for the Senate panel, urged senators for “strict” observance of its rules.
Citing Section 17, Rule 2, Jimeno said, “The committee is required to determine the form and substance complaint, which you received is a sworn complaint.”
Citing Sections 15 and 16, Jimeno also said, “You have five days to determine the form and substance. The question on jurisdiction on whether those acts relate to those committed when the respondent was already a senator is under Section 15.”
“The sworn complaint must engage the respondent in proper conduct which may reflect upon the senate at any time he or she has taken oath,” she added.
Failing to settle the issue, Sotto suspended the hearing until Thursday.
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