MANILA -- Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Friday called as blackmail the threat of Senator Jinggoy Estrada to block her confirmation before the Commission on Appointments (CA).
According to De Lima, she will be "helpless" if Estrada pursues his plan to block her confirmation as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Estrada is one of three senators facing plunder charges filed by the DOJ before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
Estrada had said he will invoke Section 20 of the CA rule, which allows a CA member to block the confirmation of any nominee during the plenary session even without a reason.
"If no confirmation to the CA is the price that I have to pay for doing my job, then so be it. Iniisip ko nga a-appear ako before the CA pero meron namang nagbabanta na i-invoke daw niya yung Section 20, anong gagawin ko dun?... I will be helpless kaya tingnan na lang natin," De Lima said.
She said what is more important to her right now is the trust given to her by President Benigno Aquino III and the public.
"I serve at the pleasure of the President. And I will continue to serve and do what I'm doing for as long as I have the trust of the President and the general public. Yun ang importante sa akin, hindi yung isang naghahari-harian sa Senate or CA," she said.
Aside from De Lima, Estrada said he will also block the confirmation of Commission on Audit (COA) commissioner Heidi Mendoza.
The COA also played a vital role in the pork barrel scam probe.
The COA released a special audit report last year on the use of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) from 2007 to 2009 in which several lawmakers, including Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., were found to have endorsed pork barrel-funded projects to fake non-government organizations (NGOs) set up by Janet Lim Napoles. -- Report from Alex Calda, dzMM; With report from The Philippine Star