Senator Leila de Lima is facing another ethics complaint at the Senate, panel chair Senator Vicente Sotto III disclosed Wednesday. In an interview, Sotto said the complaint letter was handed over to the Senate Committee on Ethics Tuesday night, just as De Lima was pinned down in a House inquiry by witnesses on her alleged links to illegal drug operations inside the New Bilibid Prison. “I haven’t seen it. The committee just informed me that somebody came over last night with a new complaint,” Sotto told reporters.
The ethics panel earlier received a complaint filed by lawyer Abelardo de Jesus. The said complaint was based on President Rodrigo Duterte’s allegations that De Lima was involved in drug operations during her term as Justice Secretary. Senator Panfilo Lacson, a member of the ethics committee, said he is inclined to move for the dismissal of the second complaint, saying it was based in an event which transpired in 2015, a year before De Lima was proclaimed senator. “Based on what I read sa complaint and in consultation with legislative staff ko, I’m inclined to go along with whoever will move for the dismissal, as of now,” Lacson said. “Maski ino-obnoxious na ako, yun pa rin ang position ko,” added Lacson, after he was accused of De Lima of “doublespeak.” Sotto meanwhile said the ethics committee cannot initiate a probe on De Lima in relation to the allegations made by witnesses presented by the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the House of Representatives.
Sotto said the issue of jurisdiction will again come into play because De Lima was still DOJ chief when she committed the alleged acts. “We can’t [investigate] unless it is a continuing allegation until she has become senator...then it will be relevant to the committee on ethics,” he said. “Officially, in the committee, I doubt [that we will talk about] it. Sa ngayon, napag-uusapan namin but nothing official and I doubt that it will be taken up in the committee on ethics, unless a complaint contains these revelations,” Sotto added.
Lacson, for his part, advised De Lima not to make enemies at the Senate, especially with an ongoing House inquiry against her. “Mas kailangan niya ng kakampi ngayon kesa sa kaaway lalo dito sa loob ng Senado. Ang away niya sa labas, wala na kami roon, walang control,” Lacson said. “Pero dito di ba mas mainam pag embattled ka huwag ka makipagaway or at the very least, tahimik ka na lang kung di ka makakuha ng kakampi,” he added. De Lima had scored Lacson for his supposed “doublespeak” after the latter said there was enough evidence that could warrant charges against De Lima for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.