SolGen taunts De Lima: What did you do to curb illegal drugs?

Bea Cupin
SolGen taunts De Lima: What did you do to curb illegal drugs?
Review your criminal law, the government's top lawyer tells Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Before she investigates police operations, Senator Leila de Lima should first try dealing with “crazed” drug suspects, the government’s top lawyer said on Monday, July 11.

Solicitor General Jose Calida held nothing back in hitting newly-elected Senator Leila de Lima, as he assured the Philippine National Police (PNP) of the Duterte administration’s support for its anti-illegal drugs operations.

De Lima, who is expected to head the Senate justice committee, earlier announced plans to launch an investigation “in aid of legislation” on the police force’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality.

Hundreds have died in what the PNP says are legitimate anti-illegal drugs operations around the country.

But De Lima, who was once chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, said there were “telltale signs” of summary executions in some of the operations conducted by different police units around the country

“There is no need for investigation in aid of legislation kuno (supposedly). Secretary de Lima, who was Secretary of Justice for 6 years… what happened during her tenure? Lalong lumakas ang proliferation of droga (Drugs proliferated more) even in her own turf, at the national penitentiary,” said Calida, a former justice undersecretary under the Arroyo government.

The SolGen added: “If she’s truly sincere to stop this drug menace, let us ask her: what did she do as justice secretary in charge of the [National Bureau of Investigation], the prosecution service, and the correctional?”

Calida said De Lima’s probe was not for investigation but  “in aid of media mileage.” The senator ran under the erstwhile ruling party, the Liberal Party, headed by former president Benigno Aquino III.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said Calida himself volunteered to visit the police camp on Monday, days after De Lima’s pronouncements. But both officials took the occasion to lambast the senator. (READ: Dela Rosa: PNP ‘legally harassed’ by De Lima)

The new administration has a 6-month deadline to stop – or at least “suppress” – crime, corruption, and illegal drugs in the country. It was among the many promises that propelled Duterte’s 2016 win.

Calida stressed that the police should be given the “presumption of regularity” in the conduct of operations.

Besides, said Calida, the situation cops face when dealing with drug suspects “is not normal.”

Hindi po ito papogihan sa media (This isn’t about looking good before the media). The police are risking their lives. It is the height of naiveté [on the part] of Secretary De Lima who apparently does not know the mindset of a crazed drug addict… we will not allow the police officers to be killed in the line of duty,” added Calida, who urged De Lima to “review her criminal law.” –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.