De Lima: I exposed drug use in Bilibid, why probe me?

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila De Lima cried foul over the planned House investigation into the proliferation of drug syndicates in the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary, insisting that she was the one who had exposed it under the previous administration.

"Ako 'yung nag-initiate. Ako nagumpisa niyan. So bakit ako ngayon ang iimbestigahan? Ako gumawa ng paraan, ako nagsiwalat ng mga naging problema diyan. They know I exerted certain effort, I took some steps after discovering all of these sa loob ng Bilibid," De Lima told reporters in an interview after the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs, Tuesday, August 23.

(I was the one who initiated a probe. I started it. So why am I the one being investigated? I was the one who acted on it, I was the one who exposed the problems there. They know I exerted certain effort, I took some steps after discovering all of these inside the Bilibid.) 

For De Lima, there is no "legitimate" need to investigate the matter. After all, she said, the past Congress already looked into the matter, adding that committee members then even inspected the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). (READ: Why anomalies happen in Bilibid)

"Hindi ko gusto 'yan....I don't think may legitimate matter, subject of an inquiry in aid of legislation. Unang-una dati nang nagko-conduct ng hearings ang committee on justice 'dun sa nangyayari sa Bilibid after ng raid namin noong December 15, 2014. Alam nila puno't dulo ng pangyayari dyan sa loob ng Bilibid," De Lima said.

(I do not like that....I don't think there is a legitimate matter, subject of an inquiry in aid of legislation. First of all, the committee on justice has long conducted hearings on the events inside the Bilibid after our raid on December 15, 2014. They know the root cause of the happenings inside the Bilibid.)

The former justice chief led a raid inside the NBP, where the government found "luxurious" cells of 19 inmates with cash, weapons, illegal drugs, and other contraband items. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Drug lords, murderers, and high living in Bilibid)

House Resolution Number 105, filed by administration allies led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, came after De Lima refused to back down and decided to continue the Senate probe into the recent spate of drug-related killings. 

Asked if she thinks the inquiry is part of political persecution, De Lima said, "I would not know that."

President Rodrigo Duterte had warned the senator that he would investigate her for her supposed slowness in cracking down on shabu laboratories inside the national penitentiary.

Ahead of the Senate hearing, the President exposed De Lima's alleged links to the drug trade in the NBP, through her former driver and bodyguard.

Despite this, the neophyte senator maintained she would not back down from the Senate inquiry that she's leading as chairperson of the committee on justice and human rights. She said the truth is on her side.

"I've always been strong, basta nasa side mo ang katotohanan (as long as the truth is on your side). Ganoon naman ako (That's how I am), I'm used to confronting all challenges," De Lima said. –

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