MANILA, Philippines – They’ve traded barbs in the past, but former justice secretary and senatorial aspirant Leila de Lima opted to “reserve her comments” on Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement that he will run for president in 2016.
“He’s been ambivalent in the past several weeks…until and unless we see his certificate of candidacy (COC) being officially filed, I’d rather reserve my comments,” De Lima said on the sidelines of a university forum on Tuesday, November 24.
She added, “The only thing I can say now is that everyone has the right to seek any post, including the highest post of the land. But of course there are legal issues that need to be confronted.”
After months of insisting that he won’t be running for president, the controversial Davao mayor announced that he has decided to run because he does not want an “American president” – referring to Senator Grace Poe.
Duterte says Poe is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines because she is a foundling. His decision to run, he said, was prompted by a Senate tribunal decision junking the disqualification case against Poe based on questions on her citizenship.
But it remains to be seen whether Duterte can run for president at all, after he missed the October 16 deadline for the filing of COCs.
While he plans to be the substitute candidate of political party PDP-Laban, it’s still up to the Commission on Elections whether to accept the substitution. (READ: EXPLAINER: Can Rodrigo Duterte run for president?)
At odds on ‘major issues’
The controversial Davao mayor is known for his tough talking ways and iron-fisted leadership style, putting him at odds with human rights advocates and with De Lima, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights.
De Lima, now running for the Senate under the Liberal Party, has previously criticized Duterte over his alleged involvement in vigilante killings in the past. (READ: Investigate Duterte’s role in death squads)
Explaining the long running word war between them, De Lima said that she and Duterte “cannot see eye to eye on certain major issues,” particularly when it comes to summary killings and Davao’s so-called death squads, a group of vigilantes that target criminals in the city.
But beyond Duterte’s alleged involvement in these killings, De Lima also questioned the “propriety” of the Davao mayor’s statements that “tend to promote or encourage vigilantism.”
“He is a lawyer, and therefore he knows that the rule of law must prevail and therefore due process has to be observed. You cannot just shoot and kill offenders of the law. That’s vigilantism. That is not the kind of constitutionally legal system we have,” she said.
Despite their long running word war, De Lima insisted that she has “nothing personal” against Duterte.
Duterte, incidentally, also said in a press conference in October that he will support De Lima’s senatorial bid because she is a fellow graduate of San Beda College. – Rappler.com