MANILA - The disbarment case lodged against Senator Leila de Lima now has better chances after the former justice secretary admitted on national television that she had an affair with her ex-driver, the current justice chief said Tuesday.
De Lima's critics filed a petition for disbarment against the lady senator last month, citing immorality as one of the grounds.
The Liberal Party senator confirmed the long-running rumor that she was once in a romantic relationship with her former driver, Ronnie Dayan, during an interview with Winnie Monsod which aired Monday evening.
De Lima will be disbarred because she cannot pass the Supreme Court's high standard of morality, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said.
"Kahit na sabihin mong magkahiwalay si Dayan at yung asawa niya, hanggat hindi annulled 'yan ay nakiki-apid ka. 'Yan ay very, sobrang immorality niyan," Aguirre said.
(Even if Dayan was already separated from her wife, as long as the marriage had not been annulled, that's still adultery. That's very immoral.)
The Supreme Court has previously sanctioned low-ranking lawyers who engaged in immoral acts with disbarment, Aguirre said.
"E 'di lalo na yan (De Lima), considering na siya ay mataas na opisyal ng gobyerno, magaling na abogado, topnotcher. Hindi magandang halimbawa yan sa mga prospective lawyers," he added.
(The SC will all the more impose sanctions against De Lima especially since she is a high-ranking government official, an excellent lawyer, and a topnotcher. She does not set a good example for prospective lawyers.)
De Lima's admission of her relationship with Dayan also bolsters allegations that she had ties with the Bilibid drug trade, as inmates had tagged Dayan as one of her alleged bagmen, Aguirre said.
De Lima has denied receiving campaign contributions from the Bilibid drug trade as alleged by several convicts.