PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday exposed the supposed links of his arch-nemesis, Sen. Leila de Lima, to drug syndicates, claiming the former Justice secretary’s senatorial campaign was tainted by money from the illegal drug trade.
Duterte at first withheld the lawmaker’s name, when he claimed in a speech during the 115th police service anniversary at Camp Crame that a lady senator is an “immoral woman” who has an affair with her driver, who was at the same time her bagman. The President later told reporters at the Manila airport he was referring to de Lima.
“You libeled me, you slandered me. I kept quiet because you are a lady. Sumobra ka na [But you went too far],” Duterte said in a news conference at the airport in Pasay City where he received the remains of a navy officer killed during an anti-drug operation in Cotabato.
At Camp Crame in Quezon City, Duterte took issue with the senator’s forthcoming Senate investigation on the government’s bloody campaign against illegal drugs.
“Here is a senator complaining. One day, I will tell you that her driver, who was her lover, was the one who [was]also collecting money for her during the campaign,” Duterte said.
“[The] money readily came from drugs. But in fairness, I would never say [clearly]that the driver gave [the money]to her. But by the looks of it, she has it,” he claimed.
Duterte, who has been carrying out a shame campaign against government officials and uniformed personnel involved in illegal drugs, is expected to name more names soon.
At the Senate, de Lima pleaded for respect and said the President’s attacks were “foul.”
“I don’t want to dignify that. First I’m so surprised why the president has to resort to that. It’s plain and simple character assassination. It’s so foul. I cannot dignify that,” she told reporters.
De Lima, who was Justice secretary in the previous Aquino administration and head of the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration, vowed to push through with next week’s probe into hundreds of drug-related killings by police and vigilantes in recent weeks.
She admitted it would be hard to go after the President. “He’s a professional, a lawyer, and a public servant like me. Respeto naman po [There has to be respect],” de Lima said.
De Lima on CD
Duterte dismissed de Lima’s criticism of the anti-drug campaign and mocked her for thinking “she’s the conscience of the country.”
The senator, he said, had no right to complain about the recent killings of drug suspects when she herself has “a very sordid personal and official life.”
Duterte also blasted de Lima for linking him to the so-called Davao Death Squad, which was allegedly behind vigilante killings of petty criminals in Davao City where the President served as mayor for two decades.
“I will show to you, I have the CD when she first investigated me in Davao for human rights violations,” Duterte said.
“Until now, she keeps on yakking and she has forgotten that tape which I had recorded. I would like her to eat it in my presence. But I cannot do it because it is not an accepted, edible food for human beings,” he added.