“I might be jumping to conclusions, but what if it is true?” Those are the words of Senator Leila De Lima in her privilege speech right after she said “The implication is that we have a group of serial killers and mass murderers right within the ranks of the organization which is supposed to protect and serve the people…”
Damn. I won’t blame other people if they start swearing at De Lima. She believes her own lies. She admits to not having the evidence to prove her allegations that there are members of the Philippine National Police who are abusing their power but she already talks to the media, particularly the members of foreign media as if what she’s saying has been proven without a shadow of a doubt.
The fact that her privilege speech was addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte is already accusatory. Without providing evidence of her “theory”, she already painted Duterte as the mastermind behind her ousting from the Senate Justice Committee investigating the alleged extrajudicial killings. Her accusations are an insult to the Senators who can think “independently”. De Lima seems to be accusing them too of collaborating with Duterte to undermine her. That is not going to earn her any brownie points among her colleagues. She is digging her own grave. She already earned the ire of some senators and, as such, she should quit talking while she’s ahead. She just keeps yakking away. Her privilege speech is enough to give most people a headache. It was all about how she had become a victim in her crusade to stop the alleged “extrajudicial killings”.
Granted, the head of the Executive branch of government does have a track record of strong-arming members of Congress into doing what he wanted them to do, specifically during BS Aquino’s term. This was evident during the impeachment and trial to remove the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona from his post. But there was strong motivation among the congressmen and senators to accede to BS Aquino’s wishes back then — because they had to appease the President so he could give them funds from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), both of which had been scrapped after the Supreme Court ruled they were illegal. This is not the case with the current administration. Besides, the circumstances of De Lima’s ouster from the Justice Committee chairmanship is different from Corona’s ouster from the Supreme Court. De Lima’s was more of a random decision based on conduct unbecoming of a senator that she had exhibited.
Indeed, De Lima wasn’t ousted because she was critical of Duterte or because she was digging into his alleged role in the Davao Death Squad. She was ousted by her own colleagues because they believed she was using the Senate to get back at her enemy. In other words, she was abusing her position and dragging the reputation of the Senate through the mud. To quote Senator Win Gatchalian:
Senate committees are tasked with shaping policy direction and crafting legislative reforms. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Senator De Lima, the committee on justice had become a hollow vehicle for the fulfillment of personal political vendettas.”“We simply had to put a stop to that,” Gatchalian’s statement said.He said the decision “was a difficult one.” But he added that “In the end, I am confident that we made the right choice to protect the integrity of the Senate and to safeguard its reputation as a true and faithful instrument to further the interests of the Filipino people.”
De Lima is definitely not objective anymore. She has an axe to grind. Some say she is behaving like a mad woman. If she feels like the whole world is conspiring against her, then she should now appreciate what former President Gloria Arroyo felt when she was denied her right to travel abroad and her right to presumption of innocence back in 2011. That was the time De Lima stopped Arroyo at the airport as she was leaving to seek medical treatment abroad and detained her even when there was no case against her at that time.
De Lima is now holding on to the sole witness against Duterte, Edgar Matobato – a witness she did not tell the other members of the Justice Committee she will be presenting beforehand. In her privilege speech, she did not really explain why she did not tell Senator Panfilo Lacson about Matobato. She just said that as early as 2009, “Edgar Matobato has already been identified by one DDS witness as a companion of said witness in one of his DDS.” As if that makes any sense at all. This raises the question as to why De Lima didn’t use him earlier. I dare De Lima supporters to ask her why she didn’t use Matobato against Duterte when she was still the Chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) or when she was Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
What the hell is wrong with people who still believe in De Lima’s drama? She failed in her roles in the CHR and DOJ, now less than six months in the Senate, she is proving to be a failure as a senator too. There are still gullible people who believe in people who play the victim card. They pose a hindrance to Philippine progress.
Some of De Lima’s supporters say they would rather believe the words of Matobato — a murderer who confesses in his role in the Davao Death Squads — than the words of a convicted drug lord like Herbert Colangco. While both Matobato and Colangco are both scumbags who are just trying to save their own asses because they don’t have a choice, Colangco’s testimonies against De Lima are supported by the fact that he ran Bilibid like he owned the place and he did it with impunity since as he said, De Lima turned a blind eye to his activities:
During a congressional inquiry on drug proliferation at the New Bilibid Prisons, Colangco likened the prison facility’s maximum security compound to the Manila red-light district in Roxas Boulevard.“Ang maximum po ay ginawa ko talagang parang Roxas Boulevard. Kahit walang dalaw, sample model binayaran ko ng P25,000 sa labas, ibebenta ko sa loob ng P75,000,” Colangco said in the House of Representatives.(I turn the maximum [security prison] into Roxas Boulevard. A sample model I pay P25,000 for outside, I sell for P75,000.)Colangco said he was running a resort-like hotel with facilities like air-conditioning and shower inside the maximum security compound.He earlier confessed selling boxes of beer during his concerts in the Bilibid, which he said Senator Leila de Lima had allowed in exchange for share in the money.
How can De Lima explain these allegations? She was DOJ Secretary for six years but did not stop or was too incompetent and, possibly, too corrupt to stop the debauchery that went on inside the national penitentiary. This is an outrage. This is something her supporters need to address too. They can’t let her off the hook just because they hate Duterte. The current problems Duterte has to deal with are the result of the previous government’s ineptitude, which De Lima was a part of. She just doesn’t have the moral high ground to criticise Duterte for her own failures.
I do hope that the new Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre will file formal charges against De Lima soon so De Lima can have her day in court. We all know that senate hearings are mostly in aid of grandstanding politicians, not legislation.
[Photo courtesy Channel NewsAsia.]