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LP stands by De Lima amid Duterte's tirades

The Liberal Party said it was saddened by the tirades received by Sen. Leila De Lima from President Rodrigo Duterte. Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV

MANILA, Philippines — The Liberal Party (LP) on Thursday defended Sen. Leila de Lima and expressed its support to the senator after President Rodrigo Duterte attacked her in his speech on Wednesday.

LP said it was saddened by the tirades received by De Lima and called for a “free and open debate for due process of law, and respect and civility in public discourse.”

“Nakakalungkot ang mga salita at mga paratang na naninira sa kaniyang pagkatao at lingkod bayan,” LP said in a statement issued Thursday morning.

“Sen. Leila de Lima is doing her job as a senator of the Republic. She deserves support, not condemnation; respect, and not gutter language; she and our people deserve the facts, not innuendo,” it explained.

On Wednesday, Duterte hit an unnamed “immoral” senator who is allegedly having an illicit affair with her married driver-bodyguard. He then named the female senator as De Lima.

Duterte said De Lima’s married driver was her lover who also collected money from convicted drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison during her election campaign. An emotional De Lima subsequently cried foul over Duterte’s allegations linking her to illegal drug activities and dismissed the president's move as “character assassination.”

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READ: ‘Senator’s lover-driver collected drug money’ | Leila cries foul; Senate probe on killings to continue

Last year, De Lima, a former Commission on Human Rights chief, said Duterte should be criminally liable for his links with the Davao Death Squad or DDS. The then Justice secretary said this after Duterte admitted links with the death squad. He later retracted the admission and said the DDS links he was referring to was the Davao Development System. 

The two have been engaging in a word war during the campaign. However, the senator said she would remain fair in the hearing on the alleged extrajudicial killings which begins today.

LP also urged the Senate leadership to support De Lima.

“To this end, we call on the Senate President to uphold the independence of the Senate whose membership must always be vigorously supported as they fulfill the people's mandate to make inquiries in aid of legislation,” LP said.

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