MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday, August 23, cried foul over President Rodrigo Duterte's allegations linking her to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles.
For De Lima, it's a recycled issue. The senator questioned why the administration keeps on digging up past allegations, saying it is "too much" already.
"Naku, rehashed issue na naman 'yan. 'Yan sinasabi ko. Bakit sila naghahalungkat nang naghahalungkat ng mga 'yan? Anong ibig sabihin niyan? Masyado naman," De Lima said.
(That's a rehashed issue. That's what I'm saying. Why are they digging and digging up the past? What does that mean? It's too much.)
Saying she was the one who sought the imprisonment of Napoles, De Lima said the accusation against her is "too unfair."
De Lima, then justice secretary, recommended the filing of plunder and tax charges against Napoles.
"Pwede ba 'wag na natin muna pag-usapan? Sino ba nagpakulong kay Napoles? Sagutin 'nyo na lang 'yun. Sino nagpakulong kay Napoles tapos iimplicate ako kay Napoles? That's too unfair," she said.
(Can we not talk about it? Who moved for Napoles' imprisonment? Just answer that. Who sought Napoles' imprisonment and then you will implicate me in the Napoles case? That's too unfair.)
In late 2013, the justice department under De Lima initiated the filing of plunder charges against Napoles, 3 senators, and other public officials in connection with the pork barrel scam.
The opposition later accused the department and the Aquino government of "selective justice" as the investigation supposedly spared allies of then President Benigno Aquino III.
Never benefited from drugs
As for the alleged bank and phone conversation that Duterte has against her, De Lima maintained she has never been involved in illegal drugs.
The President earlier admitted that he learned of the alleged involvement of De Lima's alleged driver-lover, Ronnie Dayan, in Bilibid drugs only through intercepts of a "friendly country" shared with the Philippine government, which are not admissible in court.
He did not divulge the foreign government, but said he asked permission to reveal it in public. Duterte also said that particular country "is also mad at De Lima because she's involved in drugs."
De Lima, however, seems unfazed.
"Inuulit ko lang sinasabi ko (I'm just repeating what I said). Ako sigurado po ako sa sarili ko (Me, I am sure of myself) – never involved in drugs, never benefited anything from drugs. I'm not protecting any drug lord, drug convict," De Lima said.
"Marahil iba diyan 'di maniniwala, but later they would (know). 'Tsaka 'yung mga nakakakilala sa akin, they know I would never do that," the senator said.
(Perhaps others do not believe me but later they would know. And those who know me, they know I would never do that.)
The House is set to conduct an inquiry into the proliferation of drug syndicates inside the New Bilibid Prison during De Lima's term. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org