The House of Representatives hit a lowest of the low as the House Committee on Justice reopened its probe into the narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during Senator Leila De Lima's stint as justice secretary. It was not an investigation in aid of legislation. It was 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. They were meant to humiliate and shame Senator De Lima for her association with a certain man, or her past relationship.
It is very frustrating that in this day and age, the integrity and reputation of women can be undermined by unreasonable, traditional and conservative expectations of women's conduct in romantic and even sexual relationships. It is even more shameful that this nation's supposed leaders, elected representatives of the Filipino people, made the shaming of women a political strategy and a spectacle in the "honorable" chambers of Congress.
Even the very premise of focusing on Sen. De Lima's past relationship reeks of elitism. 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.
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.
I join Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel Jr. and my other fellow Senators in calling on the members of the HoR to observe and respect the principles of co-equality and inter-chamber courtesy even with their issuance of a show cause order to Sen. De Lima. It is prudent for both the House and the Senate to first conclude their respective inquiries on the issue.
Lastly, I urge the House of Representatives, specifically House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez 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.
Photo: Ronnie Dayan from CNN Philippines