Duterte to release pattern of ‘drug links’ of De Lima

PRESIDENT Duterte is not at all done with Sen. Leila de Lima, and promised to release a “matrix” showing her alleged links to drug lords at New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“I will show you, maybe this week the matrix―I’m just validating―the matrix of Muntinlupa connection. De Lima is there… It would show her role there,” Mr. Duterte told reporters in an ambush interview on Tuesday. De Lima, he said, was the highest ranking official in the chart, though he did not specify what exactly was the role she played. “Just look at the matrix,” he said.

The President said former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan was included in the chart, along with a governor who he said was his friend. “I could not believe it,” he added. Mr. Duterte earlier alleged that De Lima’s driver Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, who was also supposedly her lover, had collected payoffs for her. The senator, a staunch critic of the President, had vehemently denied his allegation and said she would be willing to resign and get shot if evidence linking her to illegal narcotics could be found.

De Lima is currently heading a Senate inquiry on extrajudicial killings being linked to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs. Mr. Duterte said he was not keeping tabs on the nationally televised hearing.

Not taking part

“I don’t want to know [what’s happening], because I don’t want to meddle with that,” he said. He also said he rarely watched TV, except for the news. De Lima said on Tuesday she would not take part in the House of Representatives’ inquiry into the prevalence of drugs inside the NBP, a facility under her supervision as justice secretary for six years of then President Benigno Aquino III.

Speaking to reporters, De Lima said that as justice secretary she had initiated raids on the maximum security unit of the national penitentiary, which is under the Bureau of Corrections of the Department of Justice.

She said Congress had already investigated the proliferation of drugs behind prison walls after her Dec. 15, 2014, raid, which busted luxury quarters for maximum security prisoners and a dizzying haul of contraband, including cash, drugs, sex toys, and top-of-the-line gadgets and appliances.

“Why should I be the one investigated? I was the one who took initiative to do something. I was the one who exposed the problems there, and they know I exerted certain efforts, took some steps after discovering all those in Bilibid,” she said.

“I never benefited with anything from drugs. I am not a protector, coddler or drug lord. Maybe others will not believe, but later they would. And those who know me, they know I will never do that,” De Lima said.

The House supermajority will break protocol if it invites De Lima to its proposed inquiry, said Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, calling the move “a transgression of interparliamentary courtesy.”

Lagman said the House could invite anybody it wanted, including the senator’s driver-bodyguard, but not fellow lawmakers. Lagman said the probe was but an attempt to harass De Lima, an outspoken critic of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs.


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