Duterte: De Lima will suffer same fate as Gloria Arroyo

Pia Ranada
(UPDATED) 'She will rot in jail,' says President Rodrigo Duterte on Senator Leila De Lima

President Rodrigo Duterte is joined by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhiao Jianhua (right) and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano (left) as they walk along Wangfujing Street in Beijing China going to Dadong Roast Duck Restaurant for a lunch on October 19. Photo by King Rodriguez/Presidential Photo

BEIJING, China (UPDATED) – Even during a state visit to China, President Rodrigo Duterte could not help but mention his political nemesis Senator Leila De Lima.

When asked about how his China trip will help his war on drugs, Duterte reminded reporters of how the drug problem has reached the national government, supposedly through officials like De Lima.

After the Congress hearings about her alleged involvement in prison drug trade, Duterte said De Lima is sure to suffer the same fate as former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

“I am telling you now, she is in danger of going to jail. And remember the moment the indictment [is] charged in court, there is no bail. And she could be what Gloria Arroyo suffered,” said Duterte.

Arroyo was imprisoned for plunder for alleged misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds from 2008 to 2010.

In 2011, then justice secretary De Lima barred the former president and her husband Mike Arroyo from leaving the country despite the Supreme Court’s temporary restraining order (TRO). The Arroyo couple was then under preliminary investigation for their alleged involvement in the reported cheating in the 2007 senatorial polls.

Arroyo was under hospital arrest since 2012 before she walked free last July 21 after the Supreme Court acquitted her.

It’s not certain if Duterte also thinks De Lima will one day walk free from prison. (READ: De Lima wants Senate to reopen probe into killings)

But Duterte said that based on testimonies at the House hearings, De Lima may go to jail.

“Look at De Lima, you think those officials who testified against her are lying?…If that, those connections are true, she will rot in jail,” he said.

In the House hearings, witnesses, mostly convicts, testified that they gave De Lima drug money to fund her senatorial bid.

The report of the House committee on justice, however, did not recommend the filing of charges against the senator. It only urged the Department of Justice to further investigate the matter. (READ: House report on Bilibid drugs: ‘Sufficient evidence point to De Lima’)

De Lima, for her part, slammed the panel report, calling it a “sham conclusion.

“Now they are saying there is sufficient evidence but they are not recommending prosecution. So that’s ironic, that’s self contradictory,” De Lima said. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.