Emotional De Lima dares Duterte: ‘Arrest me now! I’ll wait for you’

Camille Elemia
Senator Leila de Lima reiterates that the allegations against her have been fabricated by President Rodrigo Duterte and his men who are 'cowards, fools, liars'

ARREST ME NOW. Senator Leila De Lima challenges President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest her immediately, saying it is what the President wants, after all.

MANILA, Philippines – An emotional Senator Leila de Lima challenged President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest her immediately on the basis of her alleged links to illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary.

De Lima denied anew all allegations against her, reiterating these are only “fabricated” by the President and his men, whom De Lima called “cowards, fools, and liars.”

Hulihin ‘nyo na ko ngayon! ‘Yan naman talaga ang gusto ‘nyo. Ikulong ‘nyo na ‘ko ngayon (Arrest me now! That’s what you want. Put me in jail now). I’m here! Do what you want to me, Mr President. I’ll wait for you,” the senator said in a press conference.

De Lima said she has been fearing for her life, especially now that the administration is doing all it can to malign her. The senator earlier left her home after her address was publicized in the House probe into her alleged role in the proliferation of drugs in the New Bilibid Prison.

De Lima got the ire of Duterte even before she launched a probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings under his term. When she was Commission on Human Rights chair during the Arroyo administration, she investigated Duterte, then Davao City mayor, in connection with the Davao Death Squad.

Aside from the House inquiry, De Lima is facing two ethics complaints and possible criminal and administrative charges from the Department of Justice. She was also ousted as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.

Laughingstock of the world?

The embattled senator then told Duterte to stop the “desperate” attacks, saying he is now the laughingstock of the world because of his antics and his “desperation” to get back at her.

Tama na po, in your desperation, Pangulo, para siraan ‘nyo ako, hindi ‘nyo na iniisip na kung anong nagiging hitsura ‘nyo sa mata ng bayan at mundo. Kayo na po pinagtatawanan…’di po ako,” she said.

(Please stop it. In your desperation, Mr President, to malign me, you didn’t consider how the nation and the world would see you. You are now a laughingstock…not me.)

De Lima said Duterte’s apology to Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr and two other Pangasinan officials the President earlier named as part of a drug matrix is solid proof that Duterte’s allegations and his so-called drug matrix are not credible.

Inosente po ako, tama na, nagkakamali na kayo, iba-iba na version ‘nyo. Kung anu-ano iniimbento ‘nyo. Tama na po (I’m innocent. Stop it. You’re making mistakes, you have different versions. You’re inventing all sorts of things. Stop it),” she said.

Despite her friends’ suggestions, De Lima said she would not leave the country to “escape,” saying “there is nothing to escape from.”

“I want to fight here in my country. ‘Di ako pinalaki ng tatay ko na maging duwag (I wasn’t raised by my father to be a coward),” she said. – Rappler.com

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