De Lima faces contempt charge, disbarment for preventing ex-boyfriend from attending congressional inquiry

(L-R) Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali and House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fanias (photo: /

By Macon Araneta | FilAm Star Correspondent

The House committee on justice on November 28 served a Show Cause Order to Sen. Leila de Lima for preventing her former boyfriend Ronnie Dayan from attending the congressional inquiry into the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs inside New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was justice secretary.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, chairperson of the justice committee, which was conducting the investigation, served the Order to De Lima through Senate Secretary Lutgardo Barbo before noontime on Tuesday.

The Order requires De Lima 72 hours to explain why she should not be cited for contempt by the House for preventing Dayan, accused as her “bagman” from testifying in the House probe on illegal drugs.

“After due deliberation, the Committee resolved to issue a Show Cause Order directed against you for unduly interfering with an on-going investigation, in aid of legislation, conducted by the Committee,” read the Order signed by Umali.

“In this regard, you are hereby ordered to explain, within 72 hours from receipt of this Order, why you should not be held in contempt for exerting undue influence (on) Ronnie
Palisoc Dayan,” it added.

Umali cited as proof the exchange of text messages between De Lima and Dayan’s daughter, Hannah Mae, presented in the House hearing last November 24.

The text messages supposedly proved that De Lima directed Dayan, who had been subpoenaed by the House panel, “to defy a valid coercive process issued by the Committee, thereby causing undue interference in the conduits of its proceedings during the hearings where his attendance was required.”

“Should you fail or refuse to comply with this Order, the Committee will be constrained to take appropriate actions which may include the possibility of citing you in contempt under Section 11 of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives,” read the Order.

Leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives met Monday night to diffuse a possible clash between members of the two Chambers over De Lima’s case.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson said they told their counterparts in the House– Fariñas and Umali, they will not prevent them from serving the Show Cause Order to De Lima.

Lacson is the chairperson of the committee on public order and illegal drugs which is investigating the death of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Roland Espinosa, father of Eastern Visayas’ number one drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

In case De Lima continues to defy the House Order, Sotto and Lacson said the House leadership can file a complaint with the Senate Ethics committee.

Sotto, also chair of the ethics committee, said it is now up to the committee members to impose sanctions on or discipline De Lima if warranted.

Sotto and Lacson said they were just avoiding the arrest and detainment of a Senate member. But they will not stop House leaders if they want to proceed with the filing of charges against De Lima before the Supreme or any court.

De Lima said she will refer the order to the Senate leadership through Senate President Koko Pimentel for appropriate action. But the latter reportedly said he will forward the show cause order to the rules committee.

“I would want the Senate President, and the institution to tackle it, respond to it. This is not only the issue of Sen. De Lima, this is an issue of the whole Senate as an institution,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon in an interview with reporters.

“I would want it to be discussed either in a caucus or in the plenary in the Senate,” he said.
Drilon said he would not make a motion to ask the Senate to make a stand on the issue but said De Lima could refer it to the chamber for advice.

“I’m not honoring that. I will not honor any notice or process from the House committee because I am not recognizing the jurisdiction of the House committee over me,” said De Lima in response.

She called the House hearing as a “kangaroo” court that only intends to nail her with charges for illegal drugs and tag her as drug coddler, drug protector, and drug beneficiary.

She decried that only witnesses, including convicted drug lords in Bilibid, who are pre-disposed to link her to illegal drug charges testified in the House hearing.

Told about the plan of the House leaders to file a disbarment case against her, De Lima stressed she will face all their plans. She said this will just add up to her nine cases against the Department of Justice, Supreme Court and the Ombudsman.

But De Lima said she will not do what Dayan did to her.

“I don’t want to destroy him. That’s not my attitude. I know there’s a reason why he was forced to tell lies about Kerwin Espinosa. That’s a total lie,” she also said.

“We are the only ones who know what happened to our relationship. Only we know it. He knows why it ended,” said De Lima, adding she would not reveal the details of their relationship.

Dayan, a married man, claimed that his relationship with the Senator lasted for seven years. He disclosed some details of their affair before the House committee.

After being arrested in La Union, Dayan was brought to the congressional inquiry where he alleged that De Lima dissuaded him from showing up in the House. He said De Lima told him lawmakers would just “feast” on their relationship as part of the Duterte administration’s alleged bid to destroy her reputation.

Dayan had also accused De Lima of ordering him to collect money from Espinosa, which the Senator strongly denied. But Espinosa, in his testimony before Lacson’s committee, said he gave a total of PHP 8 million for De Lima’s campaign funds.

De Lima insisted Dayan told lies when he testified against her in the House hearing.
She said both he and Kerwin are lying. “They both know it. They have their own reasons why they were forced to lie.”

The former justice secretary also confirmed she gave Dayan money for the construction of the so-called Orange house in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan but it did not amount to PP 2million. She said she gave them in tranches as financial assistance for the construction of the house.

During that time, De Lima said she was not yet with the government. She was had a private practice with money and savings. She said her finances were drained when she joined the government.

Meanwhile, Farinas said they would file an ethics complaint against De Lima before the Senate ethics committee and a case before the Supreme Court for alleged violation of the lawyers’ canon.