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LP-allied solon scores Duterte for attack on De Lima

/ 11:49 AM August 18, 2016
Akbayan representative Tom Villarin. PHOTO FROM VILLARIN'S FACEBOOK PAGE

Akbayan representative Tom Villarin. PHOTO FROM VILLARIN’S FACEBOOK PAGE

Liberal Party lawmakers in the House of Representatives assailed President Rodrigo Duterte for being “unbecoming” as Chief Executive in his personal tirades against Senator Leila De Lima.

In a statement on Thursday, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin criticized the President for resorting to character assassination instead of raising the level of debate.

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READ: Duterte blasts female senator: She’s ‘immoral’, an ‘adulterer’ 

“President Duterte’s tirades against Sen Leila De Lima were unbecoming and uncalled for. Instead of boldly facing criticism, raising the level of discourse, and arguing on the basis of policy, he resorted to putrid and vitriolic language against Senator De Lima’s personality,” Villarin said.

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Villarin said Malacañang should respect the independence of the Senate and of De Lima to investigate the spate of extrajudicial killings at the height of Duterte’s war on drugs.

READ: THE KILL LIST

“If this is about her call for an inquiry into alleged extrajudicial killings committed under the President’s war against illegal drugs, we remind the President, using his own words in the campaign trail, that if one has nothing to hide, one has nothing to fear,” Villarin said.

“In the same way that President Duterte fulfills his duty to the Filipino people, Senator De Lima is faithfully doing hers,” he added.

Villarin said Duterte’s overwhelming mandate during the elections on the back of his campaign promise of eliminating drugs and criminality is not an excuse for him to publicly humiliate De Lima.

READ: Emotional De Lima calls Duterte tirades ‘character assassination’ 

“Being popular does not give anyone the excuse, much less the right, to intentionally inflict personal harm upon others. No one can ever be right in doing something that is inherently wrong, not even the President,” Villarin said.

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For her part, Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao said she is siding with her female colleague De Lima for standing up to her principles to investigate summary killings under the Duterte administration.

“I am one with the strong women who are doing their very best to ensure that our society becomes more discerning and humane. Nawa’y hindi tayo magpatinag sa mga insultong naglalayon lamang na pahinain tayo. Ipakita natin ang lakas ng kababaihan sa pagbubuo ng isang bayang marangal at may pagpapahalaga sa mga karapatan at sa dignidad ng tao at ng kaniyang buhay (I hope we won’t be discouraged by insults which are only meant to discredit us. We should show the strength of women in building a nation that is morally upright and values the life and dignity of its people),” Bag-ao said.

She urged the President to focus on the issues at hand instead of  publicly shaming an official.

“We hope that the debate will focus on the issues and policies rather than name-calling and personal attacks,” Bag-ao said.

“I stand with you, Senator Leila De Lima,” she added.

A former justice secretary, De Lima won as senator under the Liberal Party in the May elections. She investigated Duterte’s links to the vigilante group Davao Death Squad blamed for over 1,000 summary killings in Davao City under Duterte’s term as mayor.

READ: De Lima: Witness links Duterte to Davao Death Squad 

In his speech during the 115th police service anniversary at Camp Crame on Wednesday, Duterte shamed a lady senator for being an “adulterer” and “immoral” because of her supposed affair with her driver who allegedly earned money from drugs.

“Here’s a senator complaining. One day I will tell you that her driver himself, who was a lover, was the one collecting money for her during the campaign. An immoral woman, insofar as the driver’s wife is concerned, it’s adultery. Here’s a woman who funded a house of a lover and yet we don’t see any complaint about it. Those money came readily from drugs,” the President said.

In a later press briefing, he identified the senator as De Lima.

READ: Duterte slams De Lima

An emotional De Lima in a press briefing on Thursday said she would not back out from pushing through with her investigation on extrajudicial killings next Monday despite the character assassination by the President.

“Mas nanaisin ko na kayo o ang inyong gobyerno magbaon sa akin, kesa ako magbaon sa aking sarili (I would rather that you and your government disparage me, instead of me denigrating my own self),” De Lima said, lamenting Duterte’s supposed abuse of power by disrespecting a co-equal branch of government.

READ: De Lima bewails Duterte ‘abuse, misuse of power’ 

Liberal Party lawmakers in the House of Representatives supported De Lima after their counterparts in the Senate also backed the senator.

READ: LP senators rally behind De Lima amid Duterte’s tirades 

The party’s erstwhile president, Benigno Aquino III, also issued a statement hitting Duterte’s “gutter language.”

READ: Liberal Party defends De Lima, hits Duterte ‘gutter language’

“The Liberal Party stands for free and open debate, for due process of law, and respect and civility in public discourse… Senator Leila de Lima is doing her job as a senator of the Republic. She deserves support, not condemnation; respect, and not gutter language; she and our people deserve the facts, not innuendo,” the party said in a statement. IDL/rga

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TAGS: Congress, Kaka-Bag-ao, Leila de Lima, Politics, Rodrigo Duterte, tirade, Tom Villarin, word war
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