A lawmaker believes Senator Leila de Lima was honored by an international award-giving body to hit President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs.
De Lima was among the 100 Foreign Policy Global Thinkers recognized in Washington D.C. on Monday. Organizers said its honorees prove there are individuals who could step in to ease the suffering of others, especially in today's world where challenging strains of populism seem to be redefining the new normal.
Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali believes the award was given to De Lima as a knock against Duterte's war on drugs, which De Lima had been vocally opposing.
"I don’t know, this may be a lobby that was being done by some groups somehow to hit more on the President because as you very well know, the Americans are so critical of the war on drugs of the President," he said in an interview with ANC's Headstart.
"I guess they will do all these things also to hit back on the President," he added.
Umali, who chairs the House Committee on Justice, said the award-giving body would have had a different reaction had they read the report implicating De Lima in the drug trade.
"They do not know what is happening. Award-giving bodies are abroad. They do not know what is happening here. They have not really, I guess, looked into closely on probably our report. That would have been different had they read our report and look at further statistics," he said.
A total of 5,882 people have been killed across the country since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on illegal drugs, latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed.
A special report by Reuters said the kill ratio in the Philippines is much higher than in countries with comparable drug-related violence.
It said police kill 97 percent of those they shoot, leaving 33 dead for every person wounded.
Meanwhile, Umali noted that ouster calls from people within the Filipino-American community against the President may have been politically motivated. "They were saying that he’s okay, but then politically some things happen and I guess, this is now why there are negative reactions," he said.
Duterte on Friday said that a Filipina widow of a wealthy African-American is planning to lead a massive demonstration against him.
Reacting to his claim allegedly alluding to her, Fil-Am community leader Loida Nicholas-Lewis initially described Duterte's claim as “a complete fabrication and totally false.”
However, when Vice President Leni Robredo resigned from her cabinet post after she was asked to stop attending the meetings, Nicholas-Lewis said she has now joined the call for Duterte’s resignation.