MANILA, Philippines – Below the belt?
Senator Leila De Lima should expect scrutiny even in her private life, President Rodrigo Duterte shot back on Thursday, August 18.
"Anong 'spare the family'? 'Pag nasa public eye ka (What do you mean, 'spare the family'? When you're in the public eye) De Lima, your life is an open book," Duterte said in an ambush interview in Maguindanao on Thursday.
Earlier that day, De Lima appealed to Duterte to spare her friends and family from his verbal attacks since they have done nothing wrong to him.
This was part of the senator's response to Duterte's speech the day before, in which he claimed that De Lima had an illicit affair with her driver who is allegedly linked to illegal drugs.
Duterte said De Lima brought such scathing remarks upon herself.
"She created the scandal. She knows she’s a public official. Iskandalo siya diyan sa human rights, iskandalo siya diyan sa justice department (she created a scandal in human rights, she created a scandal in the justice department)," said the President.
Duterte accused De Lima of being in denial and claiming innocence.
"Siya lang ang hindi nakakaalam, alam ng buong bansang Pilipinas. Ikaw lang yata inosente e," he said.
(She seems to be the only one who doesn't know when the whole country knows. It seems you're the only innocent one.)
Duterte dared journalists to go to the Commission on Human Rights and Department of Justice to look into his allegations.
Asked if he thought he went overboard with his claims, he said it was De Lima who went too far.
"I did not, but she did. Pinagbibintangan niya 'yung mga pulis na ganoon-ganoon, putangina namamatay na 'yung pulis o (She is accusing the police of this and that, when, son of a bitch, the police are dying)," he said.
When she chaired the Commission on Human Rights and served as justice secretary in the last two administrations, De Lima openly criticized Duterte for seemingly tolerating and even encouraging extrajudicial killings of criminals and drug suspects when he was Davao City mayor.
She is leading the Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings seen as connected to the Duterte administration's war on drugs. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.