LP senators: De Lima's ouster a political reality
AJ Bolando (Philstar.com) - September 20, 2016 - 5:46pm

MANILA, Philippines – The ouster of neophyte Sen. Leila de Lima from the chairmanship of the Senate justice committee could have been avoided if concerns of other senators were earlier addressed, Liberal Party senators said on Tuesday.

The senators, composed of Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, and Sen. Risa Hontiveros, said De Lima's removal from the panel was a result of a “political reality.”

De Lima's allies said there was no dialogue that took place between them and other members of the majority bloc before the Senate voted 16-4-2 (affirmative-negative-abstain) to have the committee positions vacated.

De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, conducted a committee inquiry into the summary killings related to the government's war on drugs. The inquiry recently presented a confessed hired killer who claimed he was following orders of Duterte while he was still Davao City Mayor.

Despite the removal of De Lima from the committee, the LP senators maintained their membership in the majority bloc.

“Our alliance with the majority has always been based on the reforms that we believe will propel our nation to greater economic, political and social heights. We will continue to pursue these agenda,” the joint statement read.

“As long as we believe that these reforms can be achieved, we will remain with the majority,” it added.

Drilon, Pangilinan, Aquino and Hontiveros voted against the petition of Sen. Manny Pacquiao to unseat the current membership of the committee.

Sen. Richard Gordon replaced De Lima as the chairman of the committee, while De Lima was demoted to a member.

Before Pacquiao's motion, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano accused De Lima of using the committee probe to bring down Duterte.

He also questioned the witness that De Lima presented who claimed to be a former member of the Davao death squad, which Duterte supposedly founded at the start of his political career.

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