THE Senate on Monday removed Sen. Leila De Lima as head of the Senate justice and human rights committee, less than a week after she presented a confessed killer as witness to alleged summarily killings ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte when he was mayor of Davao City.
With 16 affirmative votes, four negative votes and two abstentions, the chamber ousted de Lima of the Liberal Party and named Sen. Richard Gordon as the new head of the justice committee.
Only Liberal Party Senators Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Francis Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros voted against de Lima’s ouster, while Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto and Antonio Trillanes 4th abstained from voting.
De Lima’s ouster came after Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao moved to declare the chairmanship and membership of the justice committee vacant.
Drilon, the Senate president pro-tempore, asked to be recognized, and pointed out there was no rule that allowed a member of the Senate to declare vacant the chairmanship of a committee.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd then moved to suspend the session to go on a caucus to discuss Pacquiao’s motion.
Prior to the ouster move, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano delivered a privilege speech wherein he lamented how some politicians were supposedly using the Senate in their plot to damage President Rodrigo Duterte’s reputation and reclaim power.
He said the efforts to discredit the administration have taken a heavy toll on the country’s image worldwide.
“The Senate is being used to mislead the public and the international media. At first it was to discredit the President and his efforts. But now it’s different,” Cayetano said.
While Cayetano was delivering his speech, de Lima walked out of the hall.
De Lima claimed the President was behind her ouster.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar immediately denied this, pointing out that the Senate belongs to a separate branch of government.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said the inquiry of the justice committee on the spate of drug-related killings in the country would continue.
As for the fate of Matobato, Sotto said the decision on providing the witness protective custody would be up to the committee leadership.