Band of Bedans: Umali tried to convince De Lima to support Duterte

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2017 03:45 PM

Reynold Umali

Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chair of the House Committee on Justice, admitted that he tried to convince Senator Leila de Lima "to support" President Duterte months ago. 

Had De Lima listened, Umali believes that the situation today will not be this "awry".

"Hindi ako nagkulang ng payo sa kanya... but she made the decision," Umali said.

"Sabi ko: 'Lei, President Duterte is a good president who is also a Bedan. Baka it will be good to support his presidency,'" he added.

Umali's committee was the one that investigated the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison, which centered on De Lima's alleged partaking of drug money with syndicates.

Umali is also the godfather of De Lima's son and a "brod" of the senator.

Both of them are products of the San Beda Law School and were members of the then administration Liberal Party.

Aside from him, other San Beda products who are now in politics, the Cabinet and business circles also interceded either for Duterte or De Lima, Umali said.

Umali said his attempt to soften up De Lima was his own decision. "I felt it was my duty considering my relations with her."

He, however, assured that he knows how to separate his personal relationship with De Lima especially when he led the NBP probe.

Umali said many of them thought that the handshake made by Duterte to De Lima before he delivered his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last year was the start of the reconciliation of the 2 personalities.

DE LIMA'S ARREST 

Although he is saddened by De Lima's arrest, Umali firmly believes that De Lima will be using her expertise in law being a bar topnotcher and a "creme dela creme lawyer".

Umali dismissed claims that recent developments are part of Duterte's vendetta on De Lima.

Asked about the "chilling effect" of De Lima's arrest to other critics of the President, Umali said: "Chilling effect will only happen when those who are affected by it have something to hide or fear." 

He also believes that the senator should not be accorded special treatment despite security risks being raised by De Lima's supporters.

"Pag hiningi mo yan (special consideration) para kay Senator De Lima, dapat hingiin mo para sa lahat," he said.