June 24, 2018, 8:50 pm
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Ethics cases vs. Lacson, Trillanes, De Lima junked

THE Senate committee on ethics yesterday unanimously junked the ethics complaint filed by former Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon against Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV in connection with the corruption allegations at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) allegedly involving Faeldon and several Customs officials.

Also unanimously dismissed were the three ethics complaints, including one filed by House leaders led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, against detained Sen. Leila de Lima for telling her former security aide Ronnie Dayan to snub a legislative investigation regarding the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon moved for the junking of the ethics cases against Lacson and Trillanes, which was immediately seconded by other committee members.

Drilon said the case against Lacson was clearly “forum shopping” since the latter’s allegations against Faeldon was the subject of an inquiry by the Senate blue ribbon committee.

Faeldon wanted Lacson either suspended or removed from office after delivering a privilege speech last August where he named him and other BOC officials as among those receiving bribe money.

Lacson alleged Faeldon received P100 million as “welcome gift” from Customs brokers when he assumed the post, a charge he has denied. As to Trillanes, Faeldon said he made malicious allegations against him during the Senate inquiry on the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu from China that slipped past the BOC.

But Drilon said the former Customs chief was also as guilty in making malicious accusations as anybody.

“Faeldon said Trillanes must be sanctioned for making malicious insinuations but Faeldon himself made malicious and untruthful statements against senators. He is as guilty as everybody,” Drilon said.

The committee on ethics was headed by Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.

Lacson, a committee member, inhibited from the hearing on the complaint filed against him.

On De Lima’s case, the committee cited lack of jurisdiction in dismissing the three ethics cases.

It was also Drilon who moved for the junking of the cases and he was seconded by Lacson, who told the committee that De Lima did not violate any Senate rules or was not performing any Senate role when she advised Dayan not to attend the inquiry initiated by the House of Representatives on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

“She did not violate the Senate rules and it is not related to Senator De Lima’s official function. We moved for the dismissal of the case without prejudice to reviving the case in the future,” Drilon said.

Senator Gregorio Honasan also supported the junking of the case against De Lima in the “spirit of humanity.”

“In the spirit of humanity, maybe this might possibly set a trend prospectively that will allow the chamber to assert its independence as the last bastion of a pluralistic democracy and thereby start protecting its members against abuse or discretion or authority,” Honasan said.

The committee said the matters raised in the complaint against De Lima were already pending before a court.

But they agreed that if the courts handling the criminal cases against De Lima hand a decision, the complainants can refile the ethics complaints.

Aside from the ethics complaint filed by the House leaders, lawyer Abelardo de Jesus filed a second complaint against De Lima in September 2016 based on the allegations that she was involved in the illegal drugs trade at the NBP.

The third ethics complaint was filed by then Kabayan party-list Rep. and now presidential spokesman Harry Roque in February last year wherein he accused De Lima of conspiring with fellow Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo to hide her supposed involvement in the illegal drugs trade.

De Lima, who will mark her first year in detention on Feb. 24, said in a statement, that the senators showed “high sense of fairness and objectivity” in junking the ethics cases against her.

“I hope that somehow I have proven my doubters and detractors wrong. From the very start, I have always kept my innocence and in due time, hopefully soon, I will be vindicated from all the fabricated charges, especially the drug cases, filed against me,” she said.
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