Duterte on De Lima ouster: I won’t intervene

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President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday distanced himself from the Senate majority’s decision to oust Sen. Leila de Lima as chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

Speaking to reporters in Davao City, the President said he would stay out of events unfolding in Congress.

“I do not intervene or dwell into matters not part of my territory,” Duterte said when asked about de Lima’s accusation that he was behind her ouster.

De Lima was removed as panel chair amid an investigation on alleged extrajudicial killings attributed to Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.

“I don’t care how many hearings are there … basta ako nakatutok sa aking trabaho [as long as I am focused on my job],” Duterte said.

The move to oust de Lima was initiated by Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao following a privilege speech by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday.

Both are allies of Duterte.

Sen. Richard Gordon replaced de Lima as chair of the committee, while Sen. Panfilo Lacson was named vice chairman.

In a text message, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Malacañang had nothing to do with de Lima losing her committee chairmanship.

“It’s a separate branch of government so we leave things to its leadership,” Andanar said.

De Lima’s ouster came after a confessed hitman testified last week before the committee that Duterte ordered the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals in Davao City when he was its mayor.

In a speech before the interview, Duterte said he would stay focused on his campaign against illegal drugs.

“I don’t care if there are a thousand of hearings everywhere… I will not stop until I shall have exterminated them, I will really kill the drug lords,” the President said.

“I will stick to my own agenda. Congress, they have their own show. Go ahead by my guest. Me, I am focused on my promise,” he added.

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