Senate ethics panel scraps Faeldon’s complaints vs. Lacson, Trillanes; junks cases against de Lima

The Senate ethics panel dismissed cases filed against several Senators

The Senate Ethics and Privileges Committee, chaired by Majority Floor Leader Vicente C. Sotto III on Tuesday unanimously dismissed the ethics complaint filed by former Bureau of Customs (BOC) commissioner Nicanor Faeldon against Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV. The complaint stemmed from the lawmakers' alleged misconduct during the Senate probe into the P6.4 billion shabu smuggling case in May last year. Faeldon filed the complaint against Lacson and Trillanes in September.

The resigned BOC chief asked the ethics committee to find Lacson guilty of “unethical, unparliamentary and improper conduct” as a senator after the lawmaker implicated him in the alleged massive corruption in the BOC.

In a privilege speech last August 2017, Lacson accused Faeldon of receiving P100 million as “pasalubong” when he assumed the office, and also tagged him as one of the agency officials allegedly receiving regular “tara” or “payola” in the BOC.

Meanwhile, the ethics complaint against Trillanes is based on the statements he made to media insinuating that Faeldon was purportedly at the heart of the drug controversy in the BOC. Faeldon has denied the allegations and chose to skip the Senate probe, saying he would rather air his side in the proper courts. For repeatedly refusing to participate in the probe led to his detention in the Senate and eventual transfer to the Pasay City Jail.

The ethics body, in the same meeting, junked the remaining ethics cases filed against detained Senator Leila de Lima, including those filed by House representatives, former representative and now Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, and lawyer Abelardo de Jesus, for supposedly preventing her former aide from attending a congressional investigation on the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison in 2016.

The complainants accused De Lima of instructing her former aide and alleged bagman Ronnie Dayan to not attend the House inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the NBP. They also charged with gross misconduct over her alleged illicit affair with Dayan.

The Senate panel cited the Senate’s lack of jurisdiction over the charges because the alleged acts were committed before de Lima became senator. Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon made the motion to dismiss the complaint, which was agreed to by Senators Lacson, Gregorio Honasan and Risa Hontiveros.

Lacson, in explaining his support of the motion, said de Lima “has not violated any Senate rule, or any related function of a senator.” Honasan, meanwhile, said he voted for the cases of dismissal “in spirit of humanity”, considering that de Lima is already facing criminal charges and is now detained. Hontiveros echoed the sentiment, saying de Lima is “living a very difficult situation” due to her detention.

Honasan said the dismissal would also protect the Senate and its members “from abuse of discretion and authority”. In approving the dismissal of the ethics complaints, Sotto, however, maintained that they have no intention of protecting de Lima’s alleged mistakes and others may file new ethics cases against her.

The ethics committee last year dismissed two ethics cases — by De Jesus and a certain Ronillo Pulmano — for the same grounds.