Either you have it or you don’t, a Brazilian government official once said.
He was then in New York talking about diplomatic immunity.
Apparently pushing his luck, the man, a diplomat himself, drew parallels between immunity and virginity.
On the rather delicate subject, he seemed to have the last word: Either you are a virgin or not a virgin.
The Brazilian diplomat said he has never met a woman who is a “half-virgin.”
Which brings us to Sen. Leila de Lima’s belated response to accusations made against her by President Rodrigo Duterte, including one on the legislator’s alleged driver-lover being her collector of drug money that helped bankroll her senatorial campaign.
On Friday, de Lima told reporters, “This is what I can say at this point. We’ve seen some snippets of facts, snippets of truths, but the bulk of [the tirades]are distortions, exaggerations and lies.”
But when asked what those “snippets of truth” were, she declined to elaborate.
The senator, a former Justice secretary, appeared to have shot herself in the foot and unwittingly gave credence to what she has described as “personal” attacks from Duterte.
In a prepared statement, she accused the President of unprecedented “abuse and misuse of executive power” when he publicly linked her to illegal drug syndicates and revealed her allegedly illicit love affair with her driver.
De Lima, also a lawyer, should know better than making a distinction between scraps of information being less than factual or less than truthful because, as any legal eagle knows, either you are telling a lie or telling the truth.
The senator explained that she found it unnecessary to issue a denial on the allegations, saying she had denied the same so many times and in different media interviews.
But she was stumbling here because she made one more denial, albeit two days after the President practically called her a drug coddler, her alleged boyfriend being the guy with whom drug people in the National Bilibid Prisons conducted their dealings.
“I have denied that [supposed canard]so many times. So, I’m denying it again. [That’s] an absolute lie, that’s completely false! I would never do that because I’ve never betrayed my oath as a public servant and I don’t intend to betray my oath as a public servant,” the senator said also on Friday.
De Lima has chosen to stay silent on the allegations because she does not want to publicly engage the President in public.
The fact that she spoke up after hedging on the issue for a day betrays all claims to innocence, a classic case of too little, too late.
That stalling could be likened to taking flight, which is a sign of guilt.
De Lima should have addressed the President’s allegations directly in her first response. Had she done so, she might have regained the people’s trust that apparently she had enjoyed when she ran successfully for the Senate.
Again, there is no half-trust or half-distrust.