“Enough! Arrest me!”
This was Senator Leila de Lima’s challenge to President Rodrigo Duterte in another emotionally charged news conference where she addressed a plan by lawmakers to show her alleged sex video, and insinuations that she had something to do with Wednesday’s stabbing incident at the New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima, who is accused of getting millions in payoffs from prison drug syndicates when she was Justice secretary, called on the President to just order her arrest.
“Tama na. Hulihin niyo na ako ngayon! `Yun naman talaga ang gusto niyo! Ikulong niyo na ako ngayon! (Enough! Just arrest me! That’s what you really want! Just put me in jail!)” she said.
“Tama na po! Stop it! Stop the madness!” the neophyte lawmaker said as she chided the President for mistakenly accusing three Pangasinan officials of also being involved in illegal drugs.
Duterte on Tuesday apologized to Pangasinan Rep. Amado Espino, former Pangasinan provincial administrator Rafael Baraan and provincial board member Raul Sison for their erroneous inclusion in a “drug matrix” with de Lima.
De Lima said: “I’ve been telling you Mr. President but you’re not listening … I warned him already, he’s starting to lose face … the information being fed to you, it’s all lies.”
The senator said she had been losing sleep and that the allegations had taken their toll on her health and her family.
The senator also cried foul over claims she might have had a hand in the prison brawl that resulted in the death of a Chinese drug convict and injuries to three others including Commando gang leader Jaybee Sebastian.
Sebastian is being urged to testify against de Lima before the investigation of the House Committee on Justice on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday expressed suspicion there were “forces” who wanted to stop Sebastian from testifying.
“What are they trying to insinuate? That it (brawl) was my doing? They are the ones harassing me. They are blaming me for everything,” de Lima said.
The senator said the incident could be another way of the government to persuade Bilibid inmates to testify against her. If this is the case, de Lima said, the government had reached a new level of “murderous policy.”
“These prisoners are supposed to be under the government’s protection. To threaten them with violence and murder simply because they refuse to be used in the ongoing House hearing is the height of mafia tactics and gangster-style operations that makes this government worse than a narco-state,” she added.
‘Take a break’
Duterte on Wednesday said De Lima should take a break to avoid a nervous breakdown.
“She’s a lawyer. She’s bright. I think she’s breaking down. I would suggest that she take days off … I am afraid that if she continues yakking there and listening to … she will have a nervous breakdown,” he told reporters before leaving for Vietnam.
The President however said it was de Lima who “oppressed” him when she was chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights and Justice secretary.
Duterte pointed out that despite a number of investigations into his role in alleged summary executions in Davao City when he was mayor, no cases have been filed.
Asked to comment on de Lima’s statement Tuesday asking if he really fancied her because of his relentless tirades, the President feigned falling off the podium at the airport, to the laughter of the audience.
No to sex video
Senators on Wednesday expressed their objection to the plan of the House justice committee to show the alleged sex video of de Lima, saying that aside from being inappropriate, the move could also be in violation of the law.
“Just to embarrass or just to make a scene out of the video in a hearing where millions of Filipinos are expected to watch is not necessary, with all due respect to the congressmen,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said playing the video could be a violation of Republic Act (RA) 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.
Section 4 (d) of the RA 9995 makes it unlawful “to publish or broadcast, or cause to be published or broadcast, whether in print or broadcast media, or show or exhibit the photo or video coverage or recordings of such sexual act or any similar activity through VCD/DVD, internet, cellular phones and other similar means or device.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon urged Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd to discuss the “sensitive” matter with the House speaker.
Pimentel said he had no plans to come out with an official stand on the issue.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd claims to be in possession of three videos of de Lima engaging in sex with unidentified males.
These will supposedly explain why de Lima’s driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan wielded influence in the penitentiary and was able to collect payoffs from drug syndicates for de Lima’s senatorial campaign.
The President said the most “serious” charge against de Lima could be the allegation that she used drug money to fund her senatorial bid.
“The portals of the national government has been opened by her election as senator because of the drug money,” Duterte claimed.