De Lima on Duterte's call to resign: Why should I listen to my persecutor?

MANILA, Philippines – Resign and hang myself? Why should I take advice from the President?

This was the immediate response of neophyte Senator Leila De Lima to President Rodrigo Duterte’s remarks that she should just resign and hang herself after being involved in controversies. 

The senator refuses to back down, saying there is no need to heed the call of her persecutor.

“Is there any reason why I should be taking advice from the person who is persecuting and maligning me? I don’t think so,” De Lima told Rappler.

“It is only natural to self-preservation that one does not rely on the suggestions of those who want to see you extinguished and who wish your destruction,” she added.

Duterte, in a speech in Tacloban on Monday, August 29, called on his fiercest critic to step down.

"Dapat ka mag-resign (You should resign), you resign," said Duterte.

While the senator maintained she would not do so, De Lima admitted the thought of quitting her post entered her mind.

"Now the call for resignation, alam 'nyo, sinabi ko na 'yan sa inyo, na nag-cross na rin sa mind ko 'yan para tumahimik na lang sila, para 'wag na nila ako, tigilan na lang nila ako, tumahimik na lang ang buhay ko, mag-resign na lang ako," De Lima said in a chance interview.

(Now the call for resignation, you know, I've already told you before, it crossed my mind. I thought about resigning so they would shut up, so they would stop attacking me, so my life would be peaceful. I thought I could just resign.)

But she dropped the thought after some reflection, she added.

“Besides, resignation at this point will be an admission of guilt and a sign of weakness. And I'm neither weak nor guilty,” De Lima said.

The President, in the same speech, even said if he were in De Lima’s place, he would take his own life.

"If I were De Lima, ladies and gentlemen, I will hang myself. The innermost of your core as female being serialized everyday," he said.

He was referring to De Lima's private affairs, including her supposed secret romantic relationships with her former driver Ronnie Dayan and her security aide Warren Cristobal. It was Duterte himself who made these allegations.

Duterte previously blasted De Lima for "immorality," and said the lady senator would make a bad example for women.

"'Pinapakita mo 'yan, you resign. Anong pakita mo sa mga babae, 'Follow me,' sabihin mo? (You are showing that, you resign. What are you showing women, 'Follow me,' you will say?) This is how to be a woman of the world," said Duterte.

Last week, Duterte released a matrix alleging that the senator and former Pangasinan Governor Amado Espino Jr, now Pangasinan 5th district representative, are the two highest public officials in the matrix. (READ: De Lima denies Duterte drug matrix: 'It's garbage') – 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

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