MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Leila De Lima walked out of the session hall during Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s privilege speech on Monday, September 19.
In his privilege speech, Cayetano – President Rodrigo Duterte’s former running mate and one of his staunchest allies in the Senate – accused De Lima of destroying the image of the Senate and the Philippines abroad.
De Lima said she left the hall “in protest” of Cayetano.
"I cannot stand it. I’m gonna deliver my own privilege speech tomorrow instead of confronting him now,” she told reporters..
"Tumayo po ako at umalis bilang protesta sa maiitim na planong patahimikin ako at ipagpatuloy ang paghahanap ng katotohanan sa likod ng mga nagaganap na patayan sa ngalan ng kampanya laban sa droga," the senator said in a separate statement.
(I stood up and left as a protest to the evil plans to silence me from continuing to look for the truth amid drug-related killings.)
Asked for her comment on tarnishing the country’s image abroad because of the Senate probe into extrajudicial killings, De Lima said: “What’s destroying the reputation of the country are the killings not me,” said De Lima, chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights which is leading a Senate inquiry on alleged extrajudicial killings under the government's anti-drug campaign.
"Ang tunay na nakakasira ay ang patuloy na mga patayang nagaganap dito sa ating bayan. Lalo pa itong lumalala dahil sa mga kilos at salita ng matataas na pinuno na tila naghihikayat na isantabi ang karapatang pantao sa paglaban sa ilegal na droga," De Lima said.
(What destroys the country's image is the continuous killings. This worsens because of the acts and words of our high-level officials who seemingly encourage disregard for human rights in the fight against illegal drugs.)
It was De Lima who last week presented an alleged former member of the Davao Death Squad who tagged Duterte and his son Paolo as among those who ordered killings in Davao City.
After Cayetano’s speech, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Duterte’s party mate, moved that the whole committee of justice and human rights be declared vacated.
As of posting time, the senators were still in caucus to discuss the matter. – 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 email@example.com