MANILA, Sept 28 (Mabuhay) – Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday dared President Rodrigo Duterte to have her arrested immediately amid accusations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“Tama na. Hulihin ninyo na ako ngayon. ‘Yun naman talaga gusto niyo. Ikulong ninyo na ako ngayon. I’m here. Do what you want to me, Mr. President. I will wait for you,” De Lima said.
The senator added she will not go somewhere. “I want to fight here in my country,” she said.
De Lima turned emotional in a press briefing held at the Senate, saying she and her staff are being harassed by the government.
“I feel so helpless,” the senator said.
“Hindi po ako duwag dahil wala akong kasalanan; ‘yung mga nagtatago lamang, mga duwag ang umaatras,” De Lima stressed.
She also called the government an “assassin state” using “mafia tactics” to scare witnesses who refuse to testify against her, as she doubted that the incident in Bilibid where a Chinese drug lord died was a “riot.”
“Absent any other available reliable information, I am not discounting the fact that this is another way of the government ‘persuading’ the Bilibid 19 to testify against me,” De Lima said.
“I am not discounting the possibility that this so-called ‘riot’ is Malacañang’s way of sending its messages to prisoners who refuse to implicate me in the Bilbid drug trade as part of Aguirre’s and Malacañang’s teleserye drama projecting me as Bilibid drug queen,” the senator added.
Chinese drug lord Tony Co died while three other high-profile inmates, including Jaybee Sebastian and Peter Co, were hurt in a stabbing incident inside Building 14 of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Sebastian was a “government asset,” De Lima said, during her term as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“I plead to Malacañang to stop this tragic, desperate and despicable actions. These prisoners are supposed to be under the government’s protection,” De Lima said.
“To threaten them with violence and murder simply because they refuse to be used in the ongoing House hearing is the height of Mafia tactics and gangster-style operations that makes this government worse than a narco-state. It makes this government an assassin state, a state that promotes murder and summary execution as policy and as weapon against its perceived enemies,” she added.
De Lima said the four inmates who were involved in the supposed riot were those who have yet to be convinced by the government to testify against her.
She said she received several text messages from “A1 sources” that Sebastian and his family was being threatened for refusing to testify against her.
Another text message said Sgt. Jonel Sanchez, former bodyguard of De Lima, was “being forced to sign affidavit but he said he is innocent.” Sanchez was supposedly De Lima’s bagman. De Lima said she feels “helpless” as her former staff were also being pressured by the government.
Several inmates have earlier been presented by the DOJ before a House committee inquiry accusing De Lima of receiving drug payoffs to fund her senatorial campaign back in May.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the prison riot inside the NBP happened at around 7:40 a.m. He said the incident started after another inmate, convicted police officer Clarence Dongail confronted Tony Co’s group, who were allegedly using shabu inside their cell.
But De Lima doubted Aguirre’s claim, saying: “Napakatanga naman natin na maniniwala tayo sa ganyang storya.”
De Lima said President Rodrigo Duterte, in his desperation to pin her down, is being put to shame by the government’s concocted stories.
“Nandyan ang mga SAF (Special Action Force). Tapos gagawan ng storya na ganyan na nagsha-shabu kaya nagka-riot? Desperation yan ng pangulo para siraan ako. Hindi niyo na iniisip kung ano nagiging itsura ninyo sa mata ng bayan at sa mundo, kayo na ang pinagtatawanan, hindi po ako,” De Lima said.
The senator turned emotional during her press conference held at the Senate, saying it was possible that the NBP riot will be again blamed on her.
“Ano na naman implication nila, kagagwan ko na naman yan? Ina-api tapos ganyan pa gagawin nila? Lahat na lang sinisisi nila sa akin and they call themselves men?” De Lima said.
Secretary Aguirre said Peter Co was in critical condition while Sebastian was already in a stable condition at the Medical Center of Muntinlupa City.
Another high-profile inmate, Vicente Sy, was also hurt in the incident. He was rushed to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa. (MNS)