Leila cries foul; Senate probe on killings to continue

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Teary-eyed but unbowed, Sen. Leila de Lima promised yesterday to push through with her committee’s probe on the drug-related killing spree.

De Lima cried foul over President Duterte’s allegations linking her to illegal drug activities.

“My first reaction was, I don’t want to dignify that, it’s so foul. It’s character assassination,” De Lima told reporters during a break in session.

The session was ongoing when Duterte alluded to De Lima, who was informed about it during the break.

“It’s very surprising. We’re both public servants. I wished he didn’t resort to those foul means. To me that’s very foul,” De Lima said.

“Where did that information come from? I wished they’d double-checked. I wished they validated the source, whoever that is. I really don’t want to dignify that,” she said.

De Lima said Duterte’s allusion to her reeked of “timing” since she was about to start an inquiry into the rising incidents of summary killings of suspected drug offenders.

De Lima said she is at a loss regarding Duterte’s agenda against her.

“He’s a professional, he’s a lawyer, he’s a public servant like me. So respeto naman po (give me some respect),” she said.

De Lima on Monday released an open letter to the President assuring him the Senate probe was meant to strengthen his administration’s war against illegal drugs.

“In coming out with the truth, we want the campaign against drugs and criminality to succeed by crafting laws to help our authorities discharge their duties properly,” she said.

De Lima said there are “indications and theories” that not all of the killings were related to drugs but were made to appear that they were part of the campaign by unscrupulous government officials and their cohorts to cover up their involvement in the drug trade.

Sen. Richard Gordon said the statements made by Duterte were expected.

“Those are facts. To him, who is a prosecutor of long standing and a mayor of long standing, when he says something he must have facts. These are facts and it’s up to the concerned senator to defend himself or herself,” Gordon said.

When it comes to President Duterte, all convention is thrown out of the window because he is unlike any of the other presidents of the past.

“This is a president that you cannot put into a category. He is sui generis. He is a class unto his own and the people let him be elected based on that classification,” Gordon said.

“That he does not follow convention, his language is kind of coarse, so he is understandable, intelligible to the masses. So you cannot expect the conduct we normally expect,” he added.

As far as Gordon is concerned, the President is sincere in everything that he does and says, particularly in going after the drug menace in the country.

So when various groups, including De Lima, criticized the anti-drug campaign, Gordon said it was not surprising that the President took it personally.

“When somebody attacks the President without any proof like you’re saying he’s ordering policemen to kill... to my mind, sabi ko nga sa kanya (I told her), you have to have a smoking gun because when you hit this thing, the President feels persecuted by you,” he said. – Marvin Sy

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