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De Lima slams Duterte for threats, dead set on filing charges

Former senator Leila De Lima said that threats from former president Rodrigo Duterte will not dissuade her from filing charges against him.

Jul 5, 2024

Rhoanne De Guzman

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5-minute read

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Photo by Bullit Marquez

Former senator Leila De Lima said on Wednesday that threats from former president Rodrigo Duterte will not dissuade her from filing charges against him and the people behind her incarceration for almost seven years.

“I’m not trying to pick a fight. I’m just doing what I can all within my right as his victim,” De Lima said in the July 3 episode of Tres from Tress podcast with VERA Files’ senior editor Tress Martelino-Reyes.

Hindi ito dahil gusto ko lang gumanti. In the first place, hindi po ako gano’n. Hindi po ako vindictive na tao. Gusto ko po ‘yung katotohanan, gusto ko ‘yung hustisya because I was a clear victim of injustice,” she added.

(This is not because I just want to seek revenge. In the first place, I’m not like that. I’m not a vindictive person. I want the truth, I want justice because I was a clear victim of injustice.)

In a press conference in Tacloban City on June 30, Duterte acknowledged De Lima’s acquittal but warned the former senator against making any moves to hold him accountable for her imprisonment. 

“Find your peace where you are now. ‘Wag kang kumalikot ng away kasi pagsisihan mo ‘yan (Don’t look for trouble because you’ll regret it),” the former president cautioned.

Asked to react to her nemesis’ warning, De Lima said, “They deprived me of more than six years of my life and most of my term as a senator at gan’on na lang (and just like that)? Mag-at peace na lang kami (We’ll be at peace)?”

“He should stop threatening me.  He must know by now that I am beyond being threatened by him,” she added.

De Lima also expressed indignation over Duterte’s apparent denial of his involvement in the “bogus” drug charges filed against her.

“How can he deny the fact that he is the one behind all of this? It was obvious to many, to all thinking persons na siya ang may pakana nito dahil nga sa matinding galit niya. Binabalikan niya lang ako (He’s behind all of this because of his anger. He’s just getting back at me),” she pointed out.

Soon after her election to the Senate in 2016, De Lima filed a resolution seeking to investigate the extrajudicial killings following the Duterte administration’s declaration of war on drugs. A few weeks later, the former president revealed a “drug matrix” linking her to the illegal drug trade. She was eventually ousted as chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which had started a probe on the drug-related extrajudicial killings and the Davao Death Squad. 

“Naniniwala ako na tama ‘yung ginawa ko, na nilabanan ko, in-oppose ko, pinalagan ko ‘yung mali na basta-basta ka na lang pumatay na hindi dadaan sa proseso, lalo na kahit ba dumaan sa proseso,” she remarked.

(I believe that I did the right thing.  I fought back, I opposed, I resisted against such wrongdoing of killing outside of due process and especially even if it went through the right process.)

“That’s my way of doing my part as an elected public official, as a duly elected senator… That was the right thing to do. So, bakit ko po pagsisisihan ‘yon (why will I regret it)?” she added.

De Lima, who was chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights from 2008 to 2010 and Justice secretary from 2010 to 2015, emphasized that the real issue is not the dispute between them, but rather Duterte’s “brutal fake war on drugs.” She said she believed that Duterte would only stop with his threats if he would be held accountable for her imprisonment and the crimes he allegedly committed during his presidency.

De Lima said she and her legal team are still studying what cases to file against the people behind the fabricated charges thrown at her to make sure the evidence is solid and strong.  She mentioned false prosecution, cyberlibel, and perjury as possible charges for which she would ask damages.  De Lima expressed hope to start filing cases this year.   

Titignan namin kung sino-sino ang mga dapat kasuhan kasi (We’ll look at who should be charged because) some of them had recanted already and ‘yung iba (others) have signified or indicated their intention to recant although wala pang pinapakita na (they are yet to show a) formal affidavit of recantation. We hope to get from them, to hear from them the real story,” she said

“I want the truth to come out about my persecution and I want to be vindicated wholly or completely,” she added.

On Sara Duterte as de facto opposition leader

Asked to comment on Vice President Sara Duterte seemingly leading the opposition after resigning from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s Cabinet as Education secretary, De Lima said she doesn’t believe the Dutertes represent the genuine opposition.

“They said all kinds of things, then changed [position]. Hindi mo na alam kung niloloko tayo, ginugulo lang tayo. They’re confusing us, ‘yun ang expertise nila. Dapat huminto na sila sa ganiyan, ginugulo lang nila ‘yung bayan,” she scoffed.

(They said all kinds of things, then changed. You don’t know if we’re being fooled, we’re being confused. They’re confusing us, that’s their expertise. They should stop that, they’re just disturbing the country.)

On June 25, the vice president revealed her father and two brothers would run for senator in the upcoming 2025 polls. Five days later, the older Duterte belied his daughter’s statement.

Kung meron naman silang delicadeza, galangin nila, respetuhin nila ‘yung (If they have delicadeza, they should respect) at least the spirit of the Constitution… no to political dynasties,” De Lima declared.

Marami-rami na nga d’yan ‘yung members ng political dynasties, dadagdagan pa nila and three at that— two sons and one father. And another question is karapat-dapat ba na maging mga senador?” she added.

(“There are already many political dynasties and they’re adding to it. And three at that— two sons and one father. And another question is, do they even deserve to be senators?”)

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