De Lima lashes out at Senate detractors
SEN. LEILA de Lima on Tuesday said it could take more than two magazines of an Uzi machine pistol “to take me down” as she denounced her detractors, particularly President Duterte and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
De Lima was alluding to the claim of a confessed member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) that then Davao City Mayor Duterte emptied two magazines of the machine pistol on a National Bureau of Investigation agent who engaged a DDS team in a shoot-out.
“It would take more than a committee chairmanship, a House inquiry intended to pillory and crucify me, an ethics committee based on hearsay, a baseless election protest, everyday tirades from the secretary of justice and the solicitor general, and vicious and personal attacks from the President to take me down,” she said in a privilege speech.
“As the saying goes, everything has been thrown at me except the kitchen sink. I am still waiting for the kitchen sink,” she added.
The senator has been at the receiving end of insults from Mr. Duterte who accused her of coddling drug lords, as she was about to launch an investigation of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of drug suspects since the start of his administration.
The President and De Lima have not been in good terms since the latter, as chair of the Commission on Human Rights, investigated him for his alleged links to the DDS.
A day after the Senate voted to oust De Lima as chair of the committee on justice and human rights, and her members who had been investigating summary killings of drug suspects, the House justice committee started its inquiry into her alleged involvement with drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison.
Addressing her ouster as committee chair, she said she did not expect fellow senators to defend her from the vicious attacks against her, but “the least I expected, of course, is you allow me to defend myself, by myself without any support whatsoever from the Senate.”
“But for this body to strip me of my committee in an unprecedented fashion at this point in time when we have categorical testimony establishing an uncanny similarity between the current phenomenon of the nationwide EJKs and the Davao EJKs as perpetuated by the DDS was unimaginable. I now resolve to imagine more of what the President allies are capable of,” she said.
Twitting Cayetano, who blamed her for destroying the country’s image due to her statements on the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects, De Lima scoffed at his statement that the Philippines was as safe as Singapore three months into the Duterte administration.
She said Cayetano’s statement came at a time when the President declared a state of national emergency due to lawless violence. “Safe lawlessness or lawless safety? In English, it’s called oxymoron, with emphasis on moron.”
She maintained that she did not feel safe with Mr. Duterte “unleashing the might and power of the whole executive branch, the other half of congressmen, and 1/24 of the Senate to go after me and destroy me.”
Her story, she said, was that she was “the first target of a new McCarthyism in our time, of being singled out by the powers that be for daring to think differently and to advocate passionately for what one believes in.”
On the House of Representatives inquiry, she belittled the witnesses against her, saying these were “convicted criminals, officials of the Department of Justice or National Bureau of Investigation and others who have an axe to grind against me, or those who have skeletons in their closet and now are being pressured to do Malacañang’s bidding at the risk of being charged themselves.”
She said the evidence against her was false and fabricated.
De Lima said contrary to Cayetano’s claim she was not destroying the image of the country.
“The problem of this country and this administration is the extrajudicial killing of more than 3,000 of our countrymen in the past three months, or more than a thousand per month,” she said.
This situation was worsened by the curses spewed out by Mr. Duterte who had insulted the United Nations and the world, Pope Francis, US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, some of whom wanted to talk to him over concerns of his drug campaign, according to De Lima.
“The President has already proven that he is more capable of single-handedly giving a bad image of this country to the whole world in the short span of three months in office,” she said.
De Lima also stood by confessed hit man Edgar Matobato, who said he was part of the DDS ordered by then Mayor Durerte to kill 1,000 criminals, as a credible witness.
As Commission on Human Rights chair before, she said she was able to talk to a DDS member in 2009 attesting that Matobato was his companion in one of the operations.
Also in 2009, the Davao City police released names of DDS members of the heinous crime section. These were the same names mentioned by Matobato to the committee, she said.
De Lima identified 24 names during her speech, noting that these men made up the “core group of the DDS.”
She insisted that Matobato’s testimony was much stronger than the drug matrix put out by the President, the source of the information of which no one wanted to divulge.
“On a personal note, I do not know where all of this will end for me,” she said.
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