De Lima cries foul, laments 'character assassination'
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday slammed Senator Leila de Lima for allegedly having an illicit affair with her married driver, and claimed the driver accepted campaign contributions from illegal drug traders.
Duterte initially did not mention De Lima in his speech in Camp Crame, but identified the person as being one of the staunchest critics of his war on drugs. Later pressed by reporters, Duterte eventually admitted he was alluding to the female lawmaker.
''Here is a senator complaining… One day I will tell you that [it is] her driver herself who was her lover, was the one who [was] also collecting money for her during the campaign,'' Duterte said in his speech.
''Here is an immoral woman flaunting -- well, of course, as far as the wife of the driver was concerned, it is adultery. Here is a woman who funded the house of her lover. And yet we don’t see any complaint about it."
Duterte also accused De Lima's driver of receiving drug money, but said he does not know if De Lima received it.
"Here is a woman who funded the house of her lover. And yet we don’t see any complaint about it. Those money readily came from drugs. The intercept between [Bilibid in] Muntinlupa and the driver were far beyond making sure someone was involved." he said.
''But in fairness, I would never state here that the driver gave the money to her. But by the looks of it, she has it."
Duterte also scored De Lima for leading an investigation against him for his alleged role in vigilante killings in Davao City, where he served as mayor for over two decades.
"I have the CD when she first investigated me in Davao for human rights violation. Before the press, entering the hotel lobby, she said 'I will prove that Duterte is connected with the DDS'," he said, referring to the infamous Davao Death Squad (DDS).
De Lima investigated Duterte's links to the DDS when she was human rights chief, and she recently gave a privilege speech denouncing the killings and human rights violations in Duterte's war against drugs. She also denied in her speech that she was involved in the drug trade.
De Lima served as human rights commissioner during the Arroyo administration and justice secretary during the Aquino administration.
SANDRA CAM VS DE LIMA
Duterte's accusation against De Lima was also once floated in 2014 by whistleblower and defeated senatorial bet Sandra Cam, a supporter of the tough-talking chief executive.
In 2014, Cam sent an affidavit to the Commission on Appointments baring De Lima's alleged illicit affairs, in an attempt to block her confirmation as justice secretary.
In an interview on ANC in 2011, De Lima clarified that she is "single by judicial decree of annulment," amid allegations that she was having an affair with controversial former cop, Cesar Mancao.
De Lima also said then that she was not open to dating.
"Right now, my partners are my 8 dogs, and my grandchildren," she said.
READ: De Lima denies affair with Mancao
Duterte earlier said he would "destroy" a female government official, but it was not clear whether he was referring to De Lima, who is set to launch on Monday a legislative inquiry into the rising cases of extra-judicial killings.
De Lima found Duterte's latest tirades against her to be "foul" and a form of "character assassination."
''Pareho naman kaming professional ng pangulo. Pareho rin kaming public servants. So sana, hindi na ho siya nag-reresort sa ganyan na mga foul means,'' De Lima told reporters at the Senate.
(We are both professional. We are both public servants. He should not have resorted to such foul acts.)
''Saan man nanggaling ang impormasyon na iyan, sana dino-double check. Sana inaalam ang source, kung kanino naggaling iyan. That is really foul. Ayaw ko talagang i-dignify iyan,'' added a teary-eyed De Lima, who had to cut short her interview.
(He should have double checked the information and the source. That is really foul and I don't want to dignify that comment.)
She said she will not let Duterte's statements affect the inquiry of her committee on the drug-related killings next week.