House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is ready to order Senator Leila de Lima’s arrest if she would not respond to the show cause order that will be issued by the chamber against her.
In a press conference Monday, Alvarez said he will “most likely” approve the issuance of an arrest warrant against De Lima should it be recommended by the House justice committee.
Asked if ordering De Lima’s arrest will not breach parliamentary rules since the Senate is a co-equal chamber of the House, the Speaker said: “She acted not in her capacity as senator, yan ang theory ko dito, because the Senate will not allow any member to interfere [with] the proceedings of a co-equal body.”
Alvarez said the senator could be arrested even if the House decides to pursue other legal actions against her, as suggested by Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
“Definitely, cases may be filed. But I’m not discounting the possibility for the issuance of a warrant of arrest, pero mapapag-usapan naman ‘yan,” he said.
De Lima defiant
But despite Alvarez’s statement, De Lima remained steadfast in not honoring the show cause order from the House of Representatives.
Interviewed at the Senate, De Lima said she would continue snubbing the House justice committee despite the House now taking a more aggressive stand to make her appear.
“I am just being consistent with my defiance vis-a-vis that so called House inquiry na alam ko na naman from the start na panghihiya lang sa akin. That is plain and simple kangaroo court,” De Lima said.
“Certainly, I will not face them I will not honor that show cause,” she stressed.
The House justice committee earlier ordered De Lima to explain why she should not be held in contempt for supposed obstruction of justice after it was found that she advised her former driver and lover, Ronnie Dayan, to skip the legislative inquiry on the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid prison.
The panel had found Dayan in contempt before his capture last week led to his appearing before the committee.
Sen. Richard Gordon said earlier that the House of Representatives cannot simply issue a show-case order on De Lima without first going through Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III.
“I-report nila sa Senate President ang transgression and let the Senate President tell the Senate. So papasok iyan as an ethics report because matindi ang accusation doon na sinabihan niya ang tetestigo na huwag sumipot,” Gordon said.
Setting a precedent
Alvarez said the House will set a precedent if it orders De Lima’s arrest.
“First time ito nangyari na may senador na nakialam sa proceedings ng House. ‘Di pa nangyayari ‘yun. Wala pang senador na g*go na nag-advise sa witness ng House na magtago,” he said.
Alvarez said De Lima “insulted” the House and breached interparliamentary courtesy when she advised Dayan to snub the congressional hearing.
Prior to the issuance of a show cause order, the Speaker noted that the House invited De Lima to the hearings so she could defend herself against allegations that she protected drug lords when she was justice secretary in exchange for money.
Alvarez said the House’s option to arrest De Lima will not be different from the Senate’s power to order a person to be taken into custody if he or she refuses to appear in the chamber.
“Nasa proseso naman ang ginawa ng House of Representatives. Kung inaakala niya na meron kaming viniolate, the courts are wide open for her to file cases agaist the congressmen,” he said.
Despite heading on a possible collision course with the Senate over De Lima, Alvarez believes the issue should not be a cause of rift for the two legislative chambers.
“That’s a small matter. Hindi naman kami nagbabanggaan dito,” he said.