De Lima admits ‘snippets of truth’
(The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2016 - 12:00am

‘But drug link an absolute lie’

MANILA, Philippines - There are “snippets of truth” in the accusations raised against her by President Duterte, but his linking her to drugs is an “absolute lie,” Sen. Leila de Lima said yesterday.

In a chance interview with reporters at the Senate yesterday, De Lima said she decided to break her silence about the allegations because a lot of people want to know straight from her if the claims made by the President were true.

“What I am seeing now is that the people do not know what is the truth and what is not. Are these the truth or lies?” De Lima said.

“But this what I can tell you. We’ve seen some snippets of facts, snippets of truths, but the bulk of it are distortions, exaggerations, and lies,” she added.

“Foremost of the lies, is yung sinasabing na may nangongolekta para sa akin sa Bilibid (that someone was collecting on my behalf at the New Bilibid Prison). That is an absolute lie,” she pointed out.

Last Wednesday in a speech at Camp Crame before police officers and personnel, the President spoke about an “immoral senator,” who allegedly received payoffs from drug syndicates at the New Bilibid Prison through her driver, who was also her lover.

In a press conference later on the same day, Duterte revealed he was referring to De Lima.

The President claimed drug money was used to finance the campaign of De Lima as well as the construction of a house for her lover.

She reiterated that she did not want to engage the President in a verbal tussle or explain in detail every allegation raised against her – hence her initial silence.

“I have been denying this for a long time already. Remember, these are the insinuations that I am a protector, coddler of drug lords or drug convicts because I benefited from them; I’m on their payroll as they claimed or that they contributed to my campaign funds,” De Lima said.

“I have denied this many times already so I’m denying it again. (That’s) an absolute lie; that’s completely false,” the senator said, referring to her drug links.

“I would never do that because I’ve never betrayed my oath as a public servant and I don’t intend to betray my oath as a public servant, especially now that I have a mandate from the people,” she added.

The senator also denied that she had paid for the house of her former driver and lover, identified as Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, in Pangasinan. “It’s (house) not mine,” she said.

The senator said she is thinking about holding a press conference to answer specific allegations against her – preferably before the start on Monday of her committee’s investigation into extrajudicial killings of suspected drug pushers. De Lima chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights.

The animosity between Duterte and De Lima may be traced to her linking him to the notorious Davao Death Squad when he was still city mayor. She was then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña, National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran, Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno and CHR chairman Chito Gascon are expected to attend Monday’s Senate hearing.

Dela Rosa, during a hearing by the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs last Thursday, confirmed to De Lima personally that he would be facing her on Monday.

De Lima said the hearing – aside from seeking to address the increase in extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals – is also meant to strengthen the mechanisms for accountability of law enforcers, institute corrective measures, and ensure full respect for basic human rights, especially the right to life.

“We need to address the phenomenon of vigilantism and summary killings and to enhance the accountability of state and non-state actors,” the senator said.

“Regardless of the question whether those killed were in fact criminals, precisely because there was no opportunity for them to be prosecuted before a court of law, the fight against crime is apparently becoming a state-sanctioned cover for a policy of summary executions and extrajudicial killings of any and all suspected criminals,” she added.

De Lima said she fully supports Duterte’s war on drugs and crime and “by presenting the truth, we aim to achieve genuine victory in the campaign against drugs and criminality by enacting the necessary laws and policies that will help our law enforcers better perform their mandate.  

“Above all else, we are one with President Duterte in wanting to reinforce our systems of laws to ensure the rule of law and respect for human rights at all times,” she said.

Based on the report of the PNP, a total of 667 killings as a result of legitimate police operations have been recorded since June 30.

The number of vigilante killings is significantly higher at 899, many of which the police suspect involved drug syndicates.

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