The tables may be turned against neophyte Sen. Leila de Lima as some senators are willing to investigate her alleged links to drug syndicates.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, who is expected to be elected Senate President on Monday, said he would wait for the resolution to be filed to start the probe.
“If none, then no business looking into it,” he said. “It must come spontaneously from senators.”
Senator Vicente Sotto 3rd, who is expected to be the next majority floor leader, said the Senate may look into the allegation of Solicitor General Jose Calida that de Lima had been in the company of known drug lord Jaybee Sebastian, a convict at the maximum compound of the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
“Yes, if a complaint is filed,” said Sotto, who was once also linked to a drug lord based in Quezon City.
Returning Sen. Richard Gordon said the complaint may be referred to the ethics committee for proper action.
De Lima, who had called for a probe into the extra-judicial killings of drug suspects, has issued a statement denouncing “in the highest possible terms this latest demolition job.”
“I categorically deny any insinuation of me extending any protection or accommodation to any criminal. My personal and professional records would belie all accusations hurled against me which are obviously intended to malign my good name and reputation and to undermine the performance of my lawful duties as a senator,” she said.
De Lima added that it is common practice that as a public servant she in the past might have mingled with people who have questionable character, including criminals.
Calida, “who once served as Justice undersecretary and acting secretary during the Arroyo administration, should have known better that public servants like us conduct meetings, and/or attend events or activities with all kinds of people in pursuance of official duties, similar to the much publicized meeting or encounter between PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa and several convicts like Herbert Colangco, Peter Co and Jaybee Sebastian,” she said, referring to the Philippine National Police.
When she was Justice secretary under the previous administration, said de Lima, she attended several Management Committee (ManCom) meetings of the Justice department, “including one hosted by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) then headed by Director Gaudencio Pangilinan.”
“That one meeting which was covered by the media at the premises of the National Bilibid Prisons was also attended by other top officials of the Department of Justice, including the heads of attached agencies and BuCor officials. At the sidelines of the event, the ManCom members mingled with some inmates during certain activities on the same day as part of the reformatory program of BuCor. It is most likely where the photograph was taken and is now being shown by Calida out of context,” de Lima said.
“May I suggest for Calida to stop his fixation on Throwback Thursday photos of me, and instead just start doing his real job of reading the 501-page decision on the West Philippine Sea case?” she added, referring to the practice of posting old pictures in social media during Thursdays.
“Meanwhile, I warn those who are attempting to implicate me in any illegal activity, and much less in illegal drugs which I have always fought: You will be frustrated. While I have been patient with all the attacks, I will never be intimidated. Rather, I will remain steadfast in fulfilling my sworn duty as senator to uphold the Constitution and human rights,” de Lima said.