De Lima can help Duterte despite tirades – Pimentel

Paterno Esmaquel II
De Lima can help Duterte despite tirades – Pimentel
Senator Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III defends why he wants Senator-elect Leila de Lima, a Duterte critic, to chair the Senate justice committee

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Senator-elect Leila de Lima, a critic of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, can help the incoming president once she heads the justice committee at the Senate.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III made this assurance on Tuesday, June 21, after a meeting with Duterte in Davao City.

Pimentel also said Senator-elect Panfilo Lacson – whom Senator Alan Peter Cayetano brands as critical of Duterte – can help the president-elect as well. 

Pimentel wants Lacson to head the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs. 

In an interview with reporters, Pimentel said he spoke with Duterte on Monday evening, June 20, about committee chairmanships. 

The senator told the president-elect that he wants committee chairmanships to go to people who can help in passing the administration’s priority measures. 

He said committee chairmanships will go “to persons who are experts” in their fields, and who turned their expertise into “their campaign advocacies.”

“I made sure that if we were to compare the Senate to a machine, a very expensive machine, actually, being paid for by the Filipino people, then we should make that machine work efficiently,” the senator said.

Pimentel’s statements come after Cayetano questioned Pimentel for tapping De Lima as justice committee chair, and Lacson as public order committee chair. 

Cayetano, who is Duterte’s defeated running mate, is vying for the Senate presidency. Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, however, said on June 15 that Cayetano still doesn’t have the numbers.

Duterte to Pimentel: ‘I agree’

On claims that De Lima and Lacson might block Duterte’s plans, Pimentel said, “Baka ‘yung ibang tao lang po ang nag-label sa mga ito na kalaban niya.” (Maybe it’s only the other people who have labeled them as his enemies.)

For one, Pimentel said De Lima can help Duterte as justice committee chair because of her “expertise.” 

De Lima served as justice secretary under outgoing President Benigno Aquino III.

De Lima, also a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, once initiated a probe into Duterte’s alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings.

Duterte, for his part, has slammed De Lima for allegedly failing to act quickly on shabu laboratories in the New Bilibid Prison.

Lacson, on the other hand, can contribute as public order committee chair because he “is presumed to be the expert” on matters involving the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Lacson served as PNP chief under former president Joseph Estrada.

Pimentel said Duterte sided with him on the issue of committee chairmanships.

“I just told the President, ‘Sir, the assignments for the committee chairmanships are the result not of transactional politics but of that agreement in principle that we are here, we are forming the majority, to actually help you achieve your legislative agenda,'” Pimentel said. 

Referring to Duterte, Pimentel told reporters, “He said, ‘I agree.'” –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at