Embattled Sen. Leila de Lima said she is willing to face her accusers before the ethics committee where formal complaints have been lodged against her and not in the Senate committee currently investigating the killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.
“I am willing to submit myself to the ethics (and privileges) committee. I have to respond, if they will require me to respond or file an answer. I will acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ethics committee. As to whatever would be my actions, it would depend on the notice I would receive from the ethics committee,” she said.
De Lima would not dare question the jurisdiction of the Senate panel concurrently chaired by Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on the matter of dealing with the issues thrown at her, unlike in the House committee probe which de Lima continues to refuse to recognize even in the wake of the possibility of her facing possible arrest for her defiance in testifying before the congressmen.
“Because I’m already a member of the Senate, which has jurisdiction over me, so I will respond. I will respond if they will ask me to respond,” she said.
“I trust more my colleagues here. They’re more professional, they’re more decent, they’re much fairer than those in that House of Representatives. I am not referring to all members of the House, only some of them,” de Lima said.De Lima plans to attend and participate in the forthcoming resumption of the probe on the Espinosa case by the committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Sen. Panfilo Lacson but only after the panel has terminated the issue concerning her former driver-bodyguard whom she has had a romantic affair in the past.
Espinosa is the father of alleged Eastern Visayan big-time drug lord Kerwin Espinosa who was apprehended in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) after he went into hiding immediately after President Duterte assumed office.
“I just don’t want to create an atmosphere (just like in the House hearing). You know some of them (congressmen) are really...these are chauvinists, sickening, sexist pigs,” she said.
“I don’t want to create an atmosphere like that in the Senate. I just want the members of the Senate who would be participating in that hearing on Monday to just really focus on the actual issue, on the real issue of that hearing. What is the real issue of the hearing To get to the bottom of the killing of Mayor Espinosa and the drug conections becoming a peripheral issue because of Kerwin Espinosa. So there were a lot of scenarios there. The versions of the Kerwin Espinosa and Ronnie Dayan, conflict with each other. Not only in the dates but also the details in how Kerwin Espinosa was accessed,” she said.
De Lima continues to snub House
De Lima belittled the significance of the show cause order issued against her by the lower house saying that it’s all for a show.
“All of this is for show. That is why I don’t want to honor it, I don’t want to recognize the proceedings at the House because it does not serve a legitimate purpose other than really to destroy me, to try to embarrass me,” she said.
While the said show cause order, in which De Lima was given 72 hours to explain why she should not be cited in contempt by the House panel, was reported to have been served to the Senate last Tuesday, de Lima insisted that she has yet to receive the said document.
“I’m not honoring that and then the Senate because this will be unprecedented is not expected to allow a sitting member for feeding me to the lions, that’s practically feeding me to the lions. If they insist, for instance if the Senate orders me to answer the House or to appear in their hearings, I will recognize the chamber’s jurisdiction but I don’t think they will say that, because it would definitely have very serious ramifications on the principle of interparliamentary courtesy,” she said.
“This has very serious repercussions on the Senate as an institution,” De Lima added.
“I will leave it to them, I will leave it to the Senate, particularly the Senate leadership if that can be tackled in plenary, or in caucus, in an executive session, etc. But of course I will not participate in that, being the one involved,” she further said.
Dayan wants to enter WPP
De Lima’s former security escort and lover Ronnie Palisoc Dayan is still interested in being covered by the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said
Aguirre made the statement despite Dayan’s failure to submit his affidavit as one of the requirements for those seeking to be under the WPP.
He noted that Dayan is now under the custody of PNP Chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.
When asked if Dayan still needs to go to DoJ to submit his affidavit, Aguirre said “maybe not anymore but (he) is still interested in WPP application, he could be in WPP, if he submits an application but under the custody of the PNP.”
Aguirre also said alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa is also supposed to file his affidavit for WPP application.
Espinosa and Dayan are expected to further disclose information that could link de Lima to the proliferation of the illegal drugs trade in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Earlier, Aguirre placed Espinosa and Dayan under provisional WPP coverage in exchange for revelations that could pin down government officials including de Lima who are allegedly involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.
Aguirre said that Espinosa and Dayan would be given security protection following their testimonies in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively, pending review and approval of their eligibility as state witnesses.
Aguirre said the sworn affidavits that will be evaluated and studied will br determined if they are qualified to become state witnesses and placed under the WPP free from criminal prosecution.
“For them to qualify as state witnesses for WPP coverage, they must appear to be not the most guilty in the crimes charged,” he stressed.
The DoJ chief further explained that while the two could be used as state witnesses, it would be the court that will decide if they would be granted immunity from indictment in the drug charges.
A person formally included in the WPP coverage would be given several privileges, including provision of a housing facility or safe house that could be extended to members of their families, financial assistance, assistance in obtaining means of livelihood, payment equivalent of salary as compensation for absences in work, travel expenses and medical expenses.
Witnesses under WPP who die would also be given death benefits, including free college education to their children.