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De Lima hits Calida for ‘cover-up’ of drug war documents

Mara Cepeda
De Lima hits Calida for ‘cover-up’ of drug war documents
'Just like his master Duterte, Solicitor General Jose Calida has no word of honor,' Senator Leila de Lima says

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima slammed Solicitor General Jose Calida for refusing to provide the Supreme Court (SC) with full documentation of the government’s war on drugs.

“Just like his master Duterte, Solicitor General Jose Calida has no word of honor,” said De Lima in a letter from her jail in Camp Crame on Saturday, January 13. 

Malinaw na cover-up ito dahil ‘pag nabunyag ang mga investigation records na ‘yan, mako-confirm ang matagal na nating hinala na karamihan sa mga napatay na drug suspects ay hindi nanlaban,” she added. (This is a clear cover-up because if the investigation records are revealed, we can confirm our long-held suspicion that many of the slain drug suspects did not fight back against the police.)

The senator was reacting to Calida’s request for the SC to recall an earlier order. The SC had required Calida to submit documentation of more than 3,000 deaths in police operations. 

Calida has refused to comply with the High Court’s order, saying the documents “contain sensitive information that have national security implications.”

But for De Lima, this is merely a “lame excuse.”

“No national security is involved in ascertaining the legitimacy of these police operations, particularly in light of the magnitude and pervasiveness of the killings. Especially now when Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel will resume,” she said in Filipino. 

The SC is currently tackling petitions seeking to declare the government’s drug war circulars as unconstitutional.  

Public concern

In her letter on Saturday, De Lima also hit Calida for supposedly saying that based on the 1987 Constitution, “the people’s right to information should be ‘limited to matters of public concern.'”

Simple lang po ang tanong ko: SolGen, hindi po ba ‘public concern’ ang pagpatay sa libo-libong mga Pilipino lalo na kung mapatunayang labag sa batas at ‘due process’ ang kanilang pagkamatay?” De Lima said.

(My question is simple: SolGen, isn’t the killing of thousands of Filipinos a “public concern,” especially if it’s proven their deaths were against the law and due process?)

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Malacañang will defer to Calida’s decision on the matter. 

“We respect the Solicitor General’s position on legal maters that it is defending the Republic, pending in any court. We defer to the decision of the Solicitor General, our counsel,” said Roque. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.