Thursday, June 24, 2021

Hontiveros: House hits its lowest in Dayan probe

SENATOR Risa Hontiveros described Friday the House of Representatives inquiry into the alleged illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) as a "public lynching in aid of misogyny and sexism".

"The intention was clear. Members of the committee were grossly unparliamentary. Their derogatory line of questioning did not aim to shed light on the issue of the drug trade in our prisons," Hontiveros said referring to manner of questioning on Ronnie Dayan, a former security aid and alleged ex-lover of Senator Leila de Lima.

Dayan, who was arrested last Tuesday, attended the House probe to disclose his participation in the alleged proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when De Lima was the then-Justice Secretary.

Several lawmakers, however, feasted on Dayan's seven-year affair with De Lima.

Hontiveros said the probe was aimed to humiliate and shame the senator for her relationship with her former aide. She called that the inquiry's focus on De Lima's past relationship "reeks of elitism."

She said that it assumes that people of a certain social and political stature shouldn't or couldn't enter into relationships with people belonging to a different social class, and should be the subject of ridicule.

Hontiveros lamented that in this day and age, the integrity and reputation of women are easily undermined by unreasonable, traditional and conservative expectations of women's conduct in romantic and even sexual relationships.

"It is not surprising that there is a surge in the number of sexual harassment cases against our women both online and off. The dishonorable behavior of our lawmakers has reinforced this despicable culture since the beginning of these investigations," she said.

Hontiveros called on members of Congress to observe and respect the principles of co-equality and inter-chamber courtesy even with their issuance of a show cause order to de Lima.

Hontiveros urged the leadership of the House of Representatives "to reign in its members and stop them from resorting to sexist and misogynistic attacks against another elected public official."

"If they are confident that they have real and tangible evidence against Senator De Lima, then let the evidence speak for itself. That is the only way for the Lower House to recover from this plunge into new and unparalleled lows," she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday remained silent on the actions of his allies in the House of Representatives during the Thursday's probe.

Duterte said he could neither judge nor praise the lawmakers who focused on Dayan's past relationship with Senator De Lima rather than establish the rampant drug sale inside the national penitentiary.

The President said he would leave the judgment to the Filipino people whether the line of questioning was inappropriate.

"I was once a congressman, [from] 1998 to year 2000. So I'm sorry, I cannot answer that because with the indifference to our inter-parliamentary, I cannot criticize them, I cannot praise them so I better keep silent," Duterte said, when sough for reaction on the House inquiry conducted on Thursday.

"Let the people of the Republic of the Philippines judge the event any way they want it. This is a free country," he added.

Vice President Leni Robredo, a former lawmaker, criticized the House members for irrelevant questions asked to Dayan.

"I looked at the questions asked. [The questions are] perhaps, totally unnecessary and malicious," the Vice President said.

De Lima, who was the subject of the inquiry, admitted that she was hurt as the lawmakers pried into her private life and personal relationship.

She called the proceedings at the House as her "public hanging" and "a spectacle" distracting the nation from more important national issues.

Senator Grace Poe also expressed disappointed over the congressional inquiry, saying a lot of questions thrown "were geared towards voyeurism – national voyeurism as opposed to in aid of legislation."

"This is quite upsetting… We understand that a lot of things have to be investigated but I think, the details of certain personal affairs should not have been discussed," Poe said. (Sunnex)

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