De Lima to Duterte: Senate probe to help in anti-crime drive

Camille Elemia
De Lima to Duterte: Senate probe to help in anti-crime drive
Senator Leila De Lima asks President Rodrigo Duterte to monitor the Senate hearings, as she maintained these are in line with his fight against drugs and crime

MANILA, Philippines – A week before the Senate starts its probe into the spate of drug-related killings, Senator Leila De Lima released an open letter to President Rodrigo Duterte assuring him that the investigation is in line with his anti-criminality drive.

De Lima, chairperson of the committee on justice and human rights, urged Duterte to monitor the Senate hearings on the extrajudicial killings, as she maintained they are only after truth.

“Mahal na Pangulong Duterte, sana ay masubaybayan po ninyo ang mga gagawing pagdinig ng Senado ukol sa mga patayang nagaganap. Nais po nating malaman ang katotohanan sa likod ng mga ito,” De Lima said.

(Dear President Duterte, I hope you follow the Senate hearings on the killings. We want to know the truth behind this.)

De Lima earlier delivered a privilege speech blasting the summary killings allegedly linked to illegal drugs. She also slammed some of Duterte’s men for tarnishing her reputation by imputing she is a “drug coddler” or protector.

Solicitor General Jose Calida earlier criticized De Lima for initiating a Senate probe and said he would advise the Philippine National Police against attending the investigation. 

PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, meanwhile, said he would attend the hearings as it is “part of [their] job.

The senator maintained the probe is in aid of legislation, contrary to the accusations of Duterte’s allies that it is in aid of media mileage.

“Sa paglalahad ng katotohanan, pakay po natin ang tunay na tagumpay ng kampanya laban sa droga at kriminalidad sa pagpapanukala ng mga nararapat na batas at alituntunin upang tulungan ang ating mga alagad ng batas sa tamang pagtupad ng tungkulin,” De Lima said.

(In determining the truth, our goal is the real success of the campaign against drugs and criminality by proposing appropriate laws and rules to help authorities properly carry out their duties.)

Senate, Duterte same goals vs drugs

Despite this, the neophyte senator said the investigation seeks to determine the same thing Duterte wants – the personalities behind the proliferation of illegal drugs and how to stop them.

“Ito pong pagtiyak sa katotohanan ay kagaya rin ng pag-alam ninyo sa mga indibidwal at grupong nagpapatakbo ng negosyo ng droga, at sa pagtukoy sa mga ugat at saklaw nito sa loob at labas ng ating bansa,” she said.

(Our quest for the truth is just like your quest for the individuals and groups that run drug businesses and the quest for its roots and coverage inside and outside the country.)

She added: “Higit sa lahat, hangad po natin gaya rin ng hangad ninyo, Pangulong Duterte, na palakasin pa ang sistema ng ating mga batas para matiyak ang pag-iral ng batas at paggalang sa karapatang pantao sa lahat ng pagkakataon.”

(Most importantly, our aim is similar to your aims, President Duterte, to strengthen laws to ensure its proper implementation and respect for human rights at all times.)

De Lima, a former justice secretary and chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, earlier said she is supportive of Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs but without compromising human rights.

She has repeatedly hit Duterte for his favorable stance on summary killings, saying suspects and criminals also have rights to be respected.

The Senate is set to begin its inquiry on August 22 and 23. De Lima is set to present witnesses during the first hearing. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com