Under-pressure Dalrymple-Philibert quits; fresh calls for 6 MPs under probe to unmask themselves
The resignation of House Speaker Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert has triggered fresh calls for the six legislators under probe by the Integrity Commission for illicit enrichment to be named as “this unresolved matter still has a dark cloud cast on the integrity of Parliament”.
Dalrymple-Philibert on Thursday announced that she was stepping down as Speaker and member of parliament for Trelawny Southern, effective immediately.
She is facing eight criminal charges for making a false statement in her statutory declarations after omitting a Mercedes-Benz motor vehicle from her filings between 2015 and 2021. The controversial use of a 20 per cent duty concession to acquire it is also in contention.
“I maintain to this day that the omission of the vehicle was a genuine oversight on my part,” Dalrymple-Philibert said in a statement released on social media.
She said that she was stepping aside after considering the damage criminal charges have done to her reputation.
“As a woman maintaining a family and as a member of parliament, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and managing partner of a law firm, the toll that it has taken on me is immense,” she added, noting that her resignation was “entirely voluntary”.
She said that she remained a loyal and committed member and supporter of the Jamaica Labour Party and the Holness administration.
She also thanked constituents, who may be called to the polls in a by-election amid the resignation.
“I look forward to the trial of the matter, for which the Integrity Commission has ruled that I be charged, to be concluded in a court of law rather than a court of public opinion,” she said.
Dalrymple-Philibert faced two days of intense public pressure, with calls from several civil society bodies, the private sector, and the parliamentary Opposition for her to step aside.
STEP TOWARDS BUILDING TRUST
On Thursday, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) said that while it hoped that Dalrymple-Philibert’s resignation would be a step towards maintaining public trust and restoring it where it may have been lost, though warranted, the resignation is not the ultimate measure of accountability.
“We use this opportunity to renew our calls for the six parliamentarians who are under investigation for illicit enrichment to remove themselves from any committee of Parliament if they are so situated. This is especially so if any of the six sit on the IC Oversight Committee and the joint select committee reviewing the Integrity Commission Act,” Executive Director Mickel Jackson told The Gleaner.
“This unresolved matter still has a dark cloud cast on the integrity of Parliament and continues to undermine public trust in those we have elected to govern,” she added.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding said that Dalrymple-Philibert’s resignation should have come from Tuesday, following the tabling of the report which detailed the circumstances that led to the charges.
Still, he said that the Opposition wants the former speaker to have a fair trial.
“I hope that we can now move forward as a Parliament without this pall hanging over. But there is the whole question of the six who are under investigation for illicit enrichment where the Government has failed to say who those people are,” he told The Gleaner.
“They have failed to come forward and admit who they are. We don’t know who they are, what their roles are, whether in the Government or in the Parliament,” said Golding.
Because of this, there remains a “highly unsatisfactory” state of affairs within the Jamaican Parliament, he said.
“I again call on the prime minister to reveal who the six MPs are who are being investigated for illicit enrichment so that they can take appropriate action as the Speaker has had to do today ... until the matters they are being investigated for are finally disposed of,” said Golding.
National Integrity Action (NIA), meanwhile, said that Dalrymple-Philibert’s resignation ensures that the status of the Speaker of the House maintains its respect and authority.
NIA Executive Director Danielle Archer told The Gleaner that this was a positive sign that Dalrymple-Philibert understands the significance of stepping aside, thereby insulating the office of the Speaker of the House from any suspicion of impropriety.
She cautioned, however, that the resignation must not be deemed as evidence of guilt.
“In our democracy, resignations are healthy and an important ethical consideration,” she said. “It must become the norm for our highest public servants to step away when the case so merits. The institution is always more important than any individual.”