House ready to issue arrest warrant vs De Lima

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said on Monday he will be forced to sign a warrant of arrest against Senator Leila de Lima if she does not comply with the show cause order issued by the House Justice Committee against her.

In a press briefing at the House of Representatives, Alvarez likewise stressed that the congressmen are not violating inter-parliamentary courtesy when the House panel decided to issue the show cause order since it was De Lima who “insulted” the House first.

“I will be forced to sign the warrant if the Justice Committee recommends it. She had to explain why she interfered with a House proceeding,” he said.

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The show cause order was issued against the former Justice secretary after her former bodyguard and alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan told lawmakers that the lady senator instructed him to snub the committee’s subpoena to attend a hearing on the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison NBP.

Alvarez noted that when the House panel started the NBP hearings, the lady senator was invited to defend herself from allegations that she benefited from the illegal drug trade when she was still Justice secretary.

“We started the hearing, we conducted a hearing on the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison. We invited her, she declined, so parliamentary courtesy,” the Davao del Norte lawmaker said.

“We subpoenaed a witness because his name is always mentioned in the hearing — Dayan. And then, she advised Dayan not to attend and to hide. Is that parliamentary courtesy?” Alvarez said.

He said that De Lima’s actions was an affront to the House as an institution and its option to issue an arrest warrant is a process not unlike the Senate’s power to order a person to be taken into custody if he or she refuses to appear before the Chamber.

“We just want her to explain her side. Why is she afraid? She can deny everything under oath. And if she thinks laws are being violated, the courts are always open,” Alvarez said.

In the meantime, the House Speaker said that the issue should not become a cause of rift between the two Chambers of Congress.

“We respect the Senate, but this is the first time in our history that a sitting senator insulted the House by interfering with a legitimate House proceeding. It is an individual offense committed by Senator De Lima, not by the Senate,” he said.

“This is just a simple matter. We can talk this out,” Alvarez said. (PNA)



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