PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte told senators over dinner Tuesday that evidence against Sen. Leila De Lima was supplied by international intelligence sources, and were not trumped-up charges as what the detained senator has been claiming.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, one of the 15 senators who joined the dinner at Malacañang Park, said the issue on de Lima’s detention due to drug trafficking was briefly touched by the President during the affair.
“He only said the evidence against her (de Lima) was international intelligence-supplied. It’s not only the locals who supplied the intelligence report against de Lima,” Ejercito reporters Wednesday.
Duterte, he said, wanted to explain the basis for the filing of cases against de Lima, who is accused of being on top of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.
Other senators who dined with the President were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, and Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri.
No serious agenda
Pimentel in a separate interview said he agreed with the description of Ejercito that the dinner was intimate and that nothing serious was discussed.
“There was no output expected except that we get to have a dinner with the President and get to know him better,” the Senate President said.
Zubiri said the President asked for their support and some time to fix the problem of peace and order in the country as well as the economy.
“I know the attitude of the President. He never asks for a favor of help. But in this particular dinner he basically mentioned that he needed our support. For me, I appreciate that. I completely appreciate his effort,” Zubiri said.
Asked if the dinner could be considered a “loyalty check” following the expulsion of the opposition Liberal Party from the Senate majority bloc, Zubiri responded in the negative and said it was normal for any president to seek the support of the legislature.
“I think that’s very human of him, for him to actually say ‘Help me with our programs.’ ‘Give me time to do it. Just let me…allow me to do my job.’ I think that’s very human of him. And very humbling as well,” he said.
Ejercito said the President also talked about the anti-drug campaign and showed them the list of local officials, including barangay (village) captains, involved in illegal drugs.