MANILA, Aug 18 (Mabuhay) — An emotional Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday accused President Rodrigo Duterte of “abusing and misusing” his executive power through personal “attacks” against her.
“This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power,” De Lima told a news conference, adding that the 1987 Constitution had not intended such power to be abused.
De Lima stressed how difficult it is to defend herself from the President, especially since he is immune from suit and “has all the backing of executive power to support him in his personal attack.”
“If this is his way of stopping the Senate, he can try until he finally silences me or the Senate,” said De Lima, adding that she would still continue with the scheduled Senate probe on drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.
“It is clear what was done to me is what will be done to those who would not bow to the wishes of the President,” De Lima added.
De Lima made the pronouncement a day after Duterte, during his remarks at the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s 115th service anniversary in Camp Crame, said a senator complaining of the administration’s anti-drug campaign was “politicking” and “posturing” when she herself is “immoral” by allegedly being the lover of her driver.
Later at a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, Duterte identified De Lima as the human rights crusader who had repeatedly “slandered” him in connection with alleged extrajudicial killings.
That same day, a teary-eyed De Lima branded Duterte’s remarks as “very foul” and a form of “character assassination.”
It was during De Lima’s time as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights that an investigation on then-Mayor Duterte’s supposed links to the Davao Death Squad was launched. The squad is blamed for vigilante-style killings of mostly petty criminals in Davao City.
Senate probe to go on
At the Senate press conference on Thursday, De Lima admitted that it crossed her mind to no longer push through with the Senate probe on extrajudicial killings under the current administration.
“Nais ko na rin po itigil ang imbestigasyon sa summary execution para lang matigil ang personal attacks sa akin,” she said about the Senate hearing scheduled for next week, August 22 and 23.
“Sumagi na rin sa akin na itigil ang imbestigasyon para sa katahimikan ko,” she added.
But De Lima said that doing so would be like turning back on her dignity and principles. “Isang huwad na anyo ko na lang ang tatayo rito. Para ko na hong ibinaon ang aking pagkatao,” she said.
De Lima then asked the President to no longer drag her colleagues, friends, and family if he is indeed “bent on destroying me.”
“Mas nanaasin ko pong kayo at inyong administrasyon ang magbaon sa akin kaysa ang aking sarili,” said De Lima, who also served as former Justice secretary and Commission on Human Rights chairperson before being elected to the Senate last May.
Ready to face charges
De Lima likewise said she is ready to face the charges that the Duterte administration are allegedly already preparing against her.
“Matagal na po akong nakakatanggap ng mga impormasyon tungkol sa pag-imbento ng mga ebidensya laban sa akin, at mga babala na sisiraan ako kung hindi ako tumigil sa tingin ninyong pagbatikos at pagpuna sa inyong pamamalakad,” she said.
“Hindi ko na lang pinansin ang mga ito. Buong akala ko na hindi kayo mismo ang magiging biktima ng sarili ninyong propaganda at social media operations.” De Lima added, even as she appealed that Duterte to get her side first before attacking her in public.
De Lima assured the President that her Senate inquiry on drug-related slays would be fair and just.
“Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag-iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao… I am not the enemy here. Stop portraying me as one,” she ended. (MNS)