EMBATTLED Sen. Leila
on Tuesday warned her opponents that their own day of reckoning will come, as she insisted that it would take more than a committee chairmanship, House investigation and everyday tirades to take her down.
In an emotional privilege speech a day after she was ousted as head of the Senate justice and human rights committee, de Lima said she could forgive all those who testified against her in Tuesday’s inquiry at the House of Representatives, because she knew they were coerced into doing so.
“But I can’t forgive those responsible for fabricating evidence against me. Your day will come,” de Lima said in Filipino.
The senator said she got information about inmates and gang leaders being taken by members of the police Special Action Force at the New Bilibid Prison and subjected to overnight interrogation sessions, to “fabricate” testimonies that she received bribes from drug lords.
She claimed prisoners were isolated and intimidated into implicating her and to fit President Rodrigo Duterte’s narrative that she was a coddler of drug lords, “aside from being the most evil woman in the planet.”
De Lima scored Duterte’s allies for vilifying her.
“Pag hindi ka sumamba kay poong Duterte, ikaw ay adik dahil adik lang ang hindi sumasamba kay poong Duterte [If you don’t worship the lord Duterte, you are a drug addict because only drug addicts don’t worship the lord Duterte],” she said.
De Lima reiterated that she was not responsible for giving the country a bad image before the international media, as claimed by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, but the extrajudicial killing of 3,000 drug suspects as well as Duterte’s relentless bad-mouthing of world leaders and United Nation officials.
The senator was referring to the President’s expletives against US President Barack Obama Obama, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Pope Francis.
“The President has already proven that he is more capable of single-handedly giving a bad image to this country to the whole world … He does not need any help from anybody on that aspect, least of all from me,” de Lima said.
De Lima also took a swipe at Cayetano, a key Duterte ally, citing his claim on Monday of Singapore-like safety of communities in the middle of the drug-related killings.
She wondered why Cayetano thought the Philippines was as safe as Singapore, when there were more than 30 individuals killed every day.
The President also declared a state of national emergency due to the existence of lawless violence, she noted.
“So are we in a state of safety as claimed by Senator Cayetano? Or are we in a state of lawlessness as declared by the President?” de Lima asked.
“Safe lawlessness, or lawless safety? Ang tawag po doon sa salitang English ay [that is what you call in English as]oxymoron, with emphasis on moron,” she said.
She lamented that just when the committee on justice was about to reveal the similarities between what is happening in the government’s anti-illegal drug operations and past violent incidents in Davao City, the Senate moved to declare the panel’s chairmanship and membership vacant.
De Lima said she did not expect her fellow senators to defend her from Duterte’s attacks, but to strip her of the committee chairmanship was unprecedented and unimaginable.
De Lima insisted that the testimony given by confessed killer Edgar Matobato linking Duterte to the murders committed by the “Davao Death Squad” was stronger than the supposed drug matrix released earlier by the President.
The matrix linked her to illegal drug operations in the national penitentiary.
De Lima said the names mentioned by Matobato, mostly policemen, were the same names that came out during a probe on the death squad by the Commission on Human Rights in 2009.
The senator was referring to SPO4 Arthur Lascanas, Chief Inspectors Jacy Francia, Fulgencio Pavo and Ronald Lao; SPO3 Jim Tan, Jun Laresma and Donito Ubales; SPO4 Samson Buenaventura; SPO1 Reynante Medina, Bienvenido Furog, Jun Bisnar, Gaston Aquino and Vivencio Jumawan; SPO2 Enrique de los Reyes Ayao and Rizalino Aquino; SPO1 Jun Bisnar and Gaston Aquino; and Sr. Supt. Isidero Florobel, Rey Capote, Tony Rivera and Dionisio Abude.
Also tagged by Matobato as death squad members were Bienvenido and Alvin Laud, Roly Engalia and Arnold Ochavez.
“The implication is that we have a core group of serial killers and mass murderers right within the ranks of the organization which is supposed to protect and serve the people,” de Lima added.
Despite being stripped of her committee chairmanship, she said she will remain in the Senate majority and the justice committee.
This was also the decision of her fellow senators in the Liberal party led by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon.
De Lima congratulated Sen. Richard Gordon, the new justice panel chairman.