Two ranking members of the House of Representatives finally served a show cause order on Tuesday against Senator Leila de Lima at the office of Senate Secretary lawyer Lutgardo Barbo, urging her to explain why she should not be cited in contempt for barring former security aide and alleged drug money bagman Ronnie Dayan from appearing before the congressional probe into illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
The two congressmen who delivered the show cause order were House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Justice Committee chair Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
Fariñas, who is also a member of the House Justice Committee, previously said that aside from administrative and criminal complaints, a disbarment case could also be filed before the Supreme Court as well as an ethics complaint in the Senate Ethics Committee for her disorderly behavior.
In an interview with reporters, Fariñas said that it would still be up to the Senate to impose possible sanctions against De Lima, but the House would seek that disciplinary action be imposed against her.
He maintained that the House is “extending all courtesies” to the lady senator.
Meanwhile, Umali noted that if De Lima responds to the show cause order, the House will next go through the process of determining whether the explanation is “sufficient.”
Asked if this meant there would be no more arrest order versus De Lima, Umali said it is too early to say but they want to avoid it as inter-chamber courtesy.
“We want to avoid that (arrest) because of inter-chamber courtesy. Sana hindi na tayo umabot dun (I hope we don’t reach that point),” Umali said.
Barbo said he is set to notify Senate Committee on Ethics and Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III about the show cause order and wait to be given instructions whether he could deliver the order to De Lima or if the order has no substance.
“Baka sabihin ng committee, ikaw na rin ang magbigay, pwede nilang tingnan kung dapat ibigay sa kanya o hindi. They will have to decide if merong sufficiency in substance (The committee could say, ‘You can give her the copy yourself,’ or they could also review if it would be necessary to give it to her or not. They will have to decide if there is sufficiency in substance),” Barbo said.
He said that upon receipt of the show cause order, De Lima will have 72 hours to respond to it.
The Senate Secretary, meanwhile, reiterated that it is only the senators who can administratively deal with their own members.
”It’s only the Senate that can administratively deal with its own members, kung may connotations ng administrative sanctions and criminal liability, so bahala na silang mag-decide (if there are connotations of administrative sanctions and criminal liability, so it’s up to them to decide),” he said. (PNA)