MANILA (Mabuhay) – Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she takes “serious offense” at accusations that she concealed information on the kidnap for ransom case filed against confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.
“I take serious offense to such unfair insinuations and I demand an apology for the false accusations,” De Lima said in a statement issued early Tuesday.
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, suspended indefinitely the congressional inquiry on the drug-related killings after accusing De Lima of concealing information on a kidnapping case filed by the common-law wife of alleged terrorist Sali Makdum against her witness, Edgar Matobato.
De Lima said that she did not do it on purpose, adding that he forgot about the information which she put on her note on her interview with Matobato.
“It was incontrovertible that she was in possession of a note that she herself made. That was so devastating, it could have been said while Matobato was lying here that there was a case na fi-nile sa kaniya ng NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) na kidnapping for ransom,” Gordon said.
In her statement issued early Tuesday, De Lima said that the kidnapping case against Matobato was discussed during the third hearing of the Committee on Justice, when she was still its chairperson.
“Senate records would show that in the third hearing of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights on the cases of extrajudicial killings dated 15 September 2016, Mr. Matobato on his first appearance admitted that a kidnap for ransom case was filed against him,” De Lima said.
“In response, as then Committee Chair, I said a subpoena will be issued for the files of the case in due time,” she added.
In the same statement, De Lima said that Matobato restated the kidnapping case when he was under questioning by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Gordon during the fourth hearing last September 22.
This was attested by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV when he read a record of Matobato’s previous testimony during Monday’s hearing, saying that there was indeed a kidnapping case filed against him.
“It is clear that Mr. Matobato was very forthcoming with the said case filed against him. There is no iota of concealment that can be attributed to me and Mr. Matobato. I cannot be faulted if the Senators present tonight gave more importance to that information even though they already heard it during the previous hearings,” De Lima’s statement further said.
Gordon’s insistent accusations forced De Lima to walk out of the hearing.
De Lima said Monday night’s incident will not make her lose her respect for her fellow senators.
“As Senators, we owe the public to settle this within the bounds of civility, fairness, and justice,” she said. (MNS)