The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday filed an obstruction of justice complaint against former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima for ignoring the summons issued by Congress and for instructing her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan to snub the probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
The agency filed a case against the lady senator for violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for disobedience to summons issued by the national assembly, its committee or subcommittees before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC).
In the resolution written by Assistant State Prosecutor Vilma D. Lopez-Sarmiento and approved by Officer-In-Charge Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr., there is probable cause to charge De Lima for violation of Article 150 of the RPC.
"Respondent's advice to Mr. Dayan through his daughter to hide and not to appear in the house inquiry constitutes an act amounting to restraining another to attend as a witness in the national assembly (now Congress of the Philippines) and inducing disobedience to a summon," the resolution said.
Violation of Article 150 has a penalty of arresto mayor or one month and one day up to six months of imprisonment or a fine ranging from PHP200 to PHP1,000 or both (fine and imprisonment).
De Lima and Dayan had both admitted that they were previously in a relationship. De Lima said it lasted for several years, while Dayan said they were together for seven years.
The complainants include House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas and House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali.
In their complaint, De Lima was invited to attend the Congressional inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP on Sept. 20 and 21 and Oct. 5 and 6.
"Respondent opted to ignore all invitations and failed to attend any of the hearings conducted by the Committee. Worse, respondent even insulted the House of Representative by calling its Committee a kangaroo court/committee and its proceedings a sham," the complaint stated.
Also in the complaint, a subpoena was also issued to Dayan but it was also ignored. Then, on Oct. 6, after failing to attend the hearing, a show cause order was issued ordering him to explain why he should not be cited for contempt.
Then, on Oct. 10, for issuing the order, he was ordered arrested by Congress.
After Dayan's arrest, the Congressional inquiry was reopened last month. During the hearing, it was revealed that De Lima instructed Dayan not to appear in Congress. The Senator gave the instruction through a text message to Dayan's daughter.
"As an incumbent Senator, former Secretary of Justice and a lawyer, advising and inducing Mr. Dayan to hide and not to attend in the House inquiry for which he was duly summoned is tantamount to inducing disobedience to summons issued by Congress of which she is a sitting member," the complaint stated.
But the embattled senator denied any involvement in the proliferation of the narcotics trade inside the national penitentiary, saying that she is being maligned by the administration for her vocal opposition to President Duterte.
De Lima is also facing criminal charges filed before the DOJ by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda and Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian against De Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade.
An ethics complaint was also filed against her before the Senate.
The VACC along with former ranking officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and a whistleblower also filed disbarment complaint before the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court (SC) against the lady senator.
Source: Philippines News Agency