De Lima on lookout bulletin: I have no plans to leave PH

Camille Elemia
De Lima on lookout bulletin: I have no plans to leave PH
'Inosente po ako, so ang guilty lang po ang tumatakas,' says Senator Leila de Lima, who is accused of involvement in the Bilibid drug trade

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the issuance of a lookout bulletin, Senator Leila de Lima said she has no plans to leave the country or to avoid the cases that could be filed against her.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II issued the “extremely urgent” order to immigration commissioner Jaime Morente and National Bureau of Investigation chief Dante Gierran to monitor the flights, activities, travel and whereabouts of De Lima and 5 others allegedly involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary.

De Lima on Monday, October 10, slammed the issuance of the bulletin, saying its only basis is the “false” accusation against her.

“Nakakatawa naman sila. Wala pa naman charges, wala pang basehan. Ang basehan ay ang ‘sinisiwalat sa House inquiry na ‘di nga totoo, so ‘di puwede maging basehan ‘yan. Korte lang puwede magpigil ng pag-alis,” De Lima told reporters.

(They’re laughable. There are no charges against me, so there’s no basis for a lookout bulletin. The only basis is what’s being claimed at the House inquiry, which isn’t even true, so it can’t be used as basis. Only a court can prevent someone from leaving the country.)

The senator also said she has no plans of leaving the country to run from possible cases, reiterating that the truth is on her side.

“In any case, wala ako balak na umalis. Kung aalis man ako, meron dahilan, like for example kung kailangan ko magpunta sa ibang bansa for an engagement. ‘Di naman ho talaga ako mahilig magbiyahe,” De Lima said.

(In any case, I have no plans of leaving. If ever I’ll leave the country, I will have a valid reason, like for example if I need to go to another country for an official engagement. I’m really not fond of traveling.)

“Wag ho kayo mag-alala, wala akong kabalak-balak umalis ng Pilipinas para iwasan kung ano man ang ihahain ‘nyo sa’kin na kaso. Wala po akong gano’n. Inosente po ako, so ang guilty lang po ang tumatakas,” the senator added.

(Don’t worry, I really have no plans of leaving the Philippines to avoid whatever case you’ll be filing against me. I have no such plans. I’m innocent, and only the guilty flee.)

In November 2011, then justice secretary De Lima barred former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from leaving the country to seek medical treatment. Arroyo was then under preliminary investigation for alleged involvement in the reported cheating in the 2007 senatorial polls.

By doing so, De Lima defied the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC), which prohibited her from implementing a travel ban against Arroyo.

De Lima is now the subject of a House probe for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison. Former aides and personnel have accused De Lima of receiving millions of pesos from drug lords.

Aguirre earlier said they are eyeing administrative and criminal charges against the senator, considered the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.

De Lima and Duterte have long been at odds over the issue of human rights. She drew the ire of Duterte anew after recently launching a probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings under his administration. – 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