De Lima bewails Duterte ‘abuse, misuse of power’
An emotional Senator Leila de Lima faced the media on Thursday and accused President Rodrigo Duterte of abusing his power when he called her an “immoral woman” for allegedly having an affair with her driver.
“Words cannot express what I am feeling right now. I guess no one can because no one has ver been attacked in such a manner by no less than the highest official of the land until now,” de Lima said.
“How does one defend oneself, when the attacker is immune from suit, and has all the backing of executive power to support him in hs personal attack?” she asked.
“This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power. I don’t think the Constitution has ever contemplated such abuse of power on such scale as it assume every President to conduct himself in a manner befitting the office he holds. It seems that this is not the case for this President,” De Lima added.
If the personal attack against her was meant to stop her Senate probe on the spate of killings in the country, the senator said the President could try “until he finally silences me or the Senate.”
Spare my family, loved ones
It was clear, she said, that what was being done to her was an indication of what would also happen to anyone who goes against the wishes of the President.
“If stopping the Senate investigation is the only way for these personal attacks by the President and his men to also stop, believe me I have already thought about that,” De Lima said.
“Tao lamang din po ako, nasasaktan, natatakot at nag-aalala rin para sa aking pamilya at mga mahal sa buhay,” she said. (I am also only human who hurt, fear and worry for my family and loved ones.)
Then directly addressing the President, De Lima admitted that it already crossed her mind to stop the Senate probe if only stop the personal attacks against her.
“Pero kapag ginawa ko po ito ay parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang sarili kong pagkatao at itinatwa ang sarili kong mga paninindigan at paniniwala,” she said. (But if I do this, it would be like turning my back on myself, my principles and beliefs.)
‘Let me defend myself’
She added, “Hindi na po ako ang tatayong kinatawan ng bayan sa Senado. Isang huwad na anyo ko na lamang ang tatayo doon. Para ko na rin pong binaon ang aking sariling pagkatao.” (I would no longer represent the people in the Senate. Only a false image of myself would be there. It would be like I already buried my dignity.)
“Mas nanainisin ko na kayo at ang inyong gobyerno ang magbaon sa akin kaysa ako ang magbaon sa aking sarili.” (I would rather that you and your government to bury me than me burying myself.)
De Lima said she was aware that the President was already preparing cases against her but said she was ready to face and answer them all at a proper time.
All she asked, she said, was that she be given a chance to explain and defend herself.
The senator said she had long been forewarned that fabricated evidence and lies would be thrown her way just to stop her from criticizing Duterte but ignored them, believing that the President would not fall for “propaganda” and social media operations.
“Sana po ay hindi pa sarado ang inyong isip na pakinggan muna ang aking panig, bago nyo ipagpatuloy ang paninira sa aking pagkatao sa harap ng publiko at taumbayan,” she said, addressing Duterte. (I hope you have not shut your mind from hearing my side before you continue destroying my image before the public and nation.)
‘Grant me what law provides’
“Kahit iyon na lang po ang ibigay nyo sa akin, ang pagkakataon na maipagtanggol ang aking sarili, lalo na po sa isang kalagayan na ang Pangulo na ng bansa ang nagdeklara na siya ang aking kalaban at personal na nag-aakusa sa akin.” (Please give me the chance to defend myself, especially in this situation where the nation’s President has declared that he is my enemy and is personally accusing me.)
“Pangulo po kayo, senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigay ninyo sa akin ang ibigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon sa kahit na kaninong naaakusahan sa ilalim ng sistemang pang legal,” De Lima added. (You are the President. I am only a senator. I only ask for a fair fight. I hope you grant me that which the law and the Constitution provide to an accused under the legal system.)
But if the President was bent on destroying her, De Lima appealed to Duterte to have the decency to spare her colleagues, friends and family.
“Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao,” she added. (Enough of the intimidation and shaming. Let’s go back to the orderliness set by the law and by basic respect for a fellow man.)
De Lima gave he assurance that the Senate committee on justice and human rights, which she chairs, would be fair in its probe on the rising number of killings in the country.