SENATOR Leila de Lima on Thursday claimed to have received threats to her life as her arch-nemesis, President Rodrigo Duterte, unleashed another tirade against her for questioning the government’s anti-drug campaign.
“I am now subject of persecution and I’m no longer safe. I don’t feel safe. The truth is, I am not safe,” de Lima told reporters in a news conference, where she also read threats sent to her mobile phone.
De Lima on Wednesday did not show up for work and was said to have scouted for a new home, after her address and mobile phone number were made public in a House inquiry into her alleged role in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
On Thursday, the neophyte senator said she was planning to file a writ of amparo and habeas data, remedies available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened.
De Lima however said she was not sure if she could rely on authorities for security. “I have no choice. They are violating my rights, right to security, right to privacy,” she said.
De Lima however said she had no plans to resign.
In Malacañang, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar called on supporters of the President to stop using social media and text messages to attack de Lima and journalists critical of the administration.
Andanar said the public should be “responsible” after de Lima and some reporters said they were being harassed by the President’s supporters.
‘Screwing the country’
President Duterte on Thursday stepped up his attacks on his staunchest critic, Senator de Lima, saying she was “screwing” not only her driver but also the nation.
In his speech during the inauguration of a power plant in Misamis Oriental, Duterte attacked the former Justice secretary for her supposed sexual activities.
When she was Justice chief, de Lima had investigated Duterte for alleged extrajudicial killings in Davao City where the latter served as mayor.
“As Secretary of Justice, she (de Lima) was building a name at my expense to become popular. So what now? See, she was not only screwing her driver, she was screwing the nation,” the President claimed.
“All the while, because of her propensity for sex, that happened,” he said, referring to the Bilibid drug trade.
Duterte had accused de Lima of having an affair with her former driver Ronnie Dayan, who was also her alleged link to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima has denied being involved in illegal narcotics and receiving payoffs from prison gangs.
The President has also denied links to the alleged “Davao Death Squad,” which de Lima first investigated when she was chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration.
In a Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings, de Lima presented alleged Davao hit man Edgar Matobato, who claimed Duterte was behind 1,000 summary executions in the city.
That cost de Lima the chairmanship of the Senate justice committee that was conducting the probe.
On Thursday, senators took turns questioning supposed inconsistencies in Matobato’s testimony.
“Just an observation, the witness tends to change his testimony. There is no affidavit, there is an affidavit… The witness [also]has a tendency to point to President Duterte. But upon questioning, [it would turn out these are just]assumptions,” Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunch Duterte ally, said.
Cayetano questioned Matobato’s narration of the killing of the alleged Turkish terrorist identified as Sali Makdum, which allegedly was ordered by Duterte.
Matobato admitted he had real estate dealings with Makdum and that he was at first not aware that the latter was a terrorist.
He said he only learned that Makdum was a terrorist from the heinous crimes division of the Davao City police, where he was as an “asset.”
Cayetano then asked Matobato who ordered the death squad to kill Makdum, to which the witness replied that he was not sure. He later pointed to police officer Arthur Lascañas.
Cayetano also pointed to inconsistencies between Matobato’s affidavit and his testimony last week on how Makdum was killed.
Matobato last week said that they kidnapped Makdum in Samal Island and killed him by strangulation, but in his affidavit, he said policemen slit the victim’s throat and took turns stabbing him.
Senator Richard Gordon, the new chairman of the committee, also pointed to conflicting statements by Matobato regarding the alleged killings of the bodyguards of former House Speaker Prospero Nograles.
Matobato also said the men belonged to former generals Jovito Palparan and Eduardo Matillano.
Also on Thursday, de Lima refuted the statement of Police Director Benjamin Magalong during Wednesday’s inquiry of the House justice committee, where he claimed the police were suddenly excluded from a raid of the national penitentiary.
Magalong said he brought up the idea to de Lima, back when he was head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
But de Lima said the operation tapped the National Capital Region Police Office and the Special Action Force as support units.
“So it’s not true that [the police]was out of the operation simply because CIDG under General Magalong then, was not included,” said de Lima.
Meanwhile, a man claiming to be behind the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus is the complainant in the second complaint filed before the Senate ethics committee against de Lima.
Ronillo Pulmano, an overseas Filipino Worker, wants de Lima out of the Senate and tried for treason supposedly because of the “damage” she had caused on all overseas workers.
De Lima damaged the country’s international reputation because of her statements on supposed extrajudicial killings in the Duterte drug war, the complainant claimed.