MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila De Lima on Thursday, August 25, hit President Rodrigo Duterte over the "desperate" and "malicious" attempt to link her to illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.
"Scrap paper, it belongs to the garbage can. Sa basura lang ito pwede ilagay (It only belongs to the trash)," the senator told reporters.
De Lima said the accusations are "laughable" as they are clearly wrong, adding that the matrix even showed the arrows pointing away from her.
The senator hit the seemingly amateur construction of the matrix, saying even a grade-schooler can make something like it.
"Is this a joke? Anong klaseng drug matrix ito? What kind of drug matrix is this? I have never seen anything like this. Can they not come up with something better, something more professional looking?" De Lima said.
In an attempt to further prove her point, De Lima said she was the one who investigated former Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr over murder charges against him. She claimed former Pangasinan 1st District Representative Hernani Braganza, an ally of former presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party, could prove it.
Espino is also included in the matrix released by the President early Thursday.
"Nakakatawa naman sila. Kung matatandaan po ninyo, pina-imbestigahan ko sa NBI 'yang si Governor Espino noong DOJ secretary pa lang ako ng murder complaint based on a testimony of a minor. It was dismissed at the preliminary investigation level dahil marami daw butas sa kwento ng witness," De Lima said.
(They're laughable. If you recall, I ordered the NBI to investigate Governor Espino when I was still DOJ secretary, over a murder complaint based on a testimony of a minor. It was dismissed at the preliminary investigation stage because the witness' testimony reportedly had many loopholes.)
"Tapos ngayon, sasabihin, kasabwat ko siya? Grabe talaga sila kung mag-imbento ng kwento. Sobrang katawa-tawa ito," the senator exclaimed.
(Now, they're saying that I conspired with him? They're too much. They're making up stories. This is so laughable.)
De Lima, who is celebrating her 57th birthday on Saturday, August 27, urged the President to stop the attacks.
"Sana maawa na sa akin ang Pangulo na tigilan na niya po 'yan. This is already madness, Mr President. Napapagod na po ako," she said.
(I hope the President takes pity on me and he ends his attacks. This is already madness, Mr President. I'm already getting tired.)
"So please Mr President, I'll be celebrating my birthday this Saturday, I'll be 57 years old. I'm still young. So sana po doon sa mga matitira ko pang taon dito, mahaba-haba po naman siguro 'yan, God willing, dito sa mundong ito. Makabuluhan naman ang aking gagawin, rather than ito, napipilitan ako sumagot sa mga kabulastugan na ito," she said.
(So please Mr President, I'll be celebrating my birthday this Saturday, I'll be 57 years old. I'm still young. So I hope in my remaining years here, I think I'll still be around for quite some time, God willing, here in this world. I'll be doing meaningful things, rather than this, I'm being forced to respond to these outrageous accusations.)
De Lima then called on Duterte to focus on far more important concerns than wasting "government time" attacking her.
"Sabi ng mga kaibigan ko humahaba nga raw every time I speak. The next day, the President will also hold a press con, wasting so much government time. Imagine, 3 to 4 hours and three-fourths of that, wee hours, of that press con is all about me. Nagsasayang lang po ng oras dito. Mas marami po dapat gawin ang Pangulo. Ako rin po marami pa rin po dapat gawin. Gusto ko na po magconcentrate," she said.
(My friends say the controversy drags on every time I speak. The next day, the President will also hold a press conference, wasting so much government time. Imagine, 3 to 4 hours and three-fourths of that, wee hours, of that press conference is all about me. We're just wasting time here. The President has better things to do. I also have many things to do. I want to concentrate.)
De Lima said this would be the last time she would address drug allegations against her to protect people close to her. After all, she said, the ultimate target of the President is only her. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org