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Rody handshake an icebreaker – De Lima

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The brief handshake of President Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday may not make them best friends, but it may ease the friction between them.

As Duterte was about to ascend the rostrum of the House of Representatives session hall to deliver his first State of the Nation Address (SONA), he passed by De Lima, who has been attacking his harsh anti-drug campaign.

He backtracked and smiled at De Lima and shook hands with her.

“I was surprised. He didn’t say anything, he just looked at me straight in the eye and with a little smile and so I smiled and I could only say ‘hi sir’,” De Lima told reporters.

“I took it positively, in the sense that it could be a warm, friendly gesture, sort of a icebreaker. He tried to dispel some notion that we are mortal enemies,” she added.

De Lima, a former justice secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, has asked for a Senate investigation into the rising incidents of extrajudicial killings of suspected drug pushers.

But in his SONA, Duterte warned against using human rights to hinder his administration’s crackdown on drug dealers and users.

De Lima said she felt that with that handshake, the President somehow conveyed to her that he knew that she was not being personal in her attacks and that he was also not taking them personally.

When asked to comment about Duterte making what she described as a “childish smirk” after their handshake, she said he was just being naughty according to their schoolmates at San Beda College of Law.

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