MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday lashed out again at Sen. Leila de Lima in an expletive-laden talk after she castigated him for his supposed failure to lead amid the COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines.
The detained senator earlier told Duterte's former long-time aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go to "stop covering up for your boss and misleading us on his true capacity to lead", after Go showed photos of the president playing golf amid questions about his whereabouts.
"No one is really in charge," De Lima said in a statement. "Marami nang namatay. Marami pang nagkakasakit. Tigilan na ang panlilinlang. Halatang-halata na kayo!"
Duterte fired back at her in a public briefing, again bringing up the illegal narcotics allegations against the detained senator.
"Tama 'yan sa'yo. Magtiis ka, p******** mo. Binastos mo ang Pilipinas ng droga diyan mismo sa national penitentiary," Duterte alleged.
He mocked De Lima for being in prison, which he said was the reason behind her criticism of his administration.
"Tutal nagtitiis ka eh. Kami dito, we're enjoying the times of our lives, you know, singing sometimes. Singing, loving. Ikaw, nasa presuhan. Magtiis ka, p******** mo," Duterte said, claiming all the charges against the senator are true.
"A b****, that's what you are," he added.
Last February, a court acquitted De Lima in 1 of the initial 3 drug cases she was facing. The two other cases are still pending against her, but the vocal administration critic has long denied involvement in the drug trade, saying the charges were political.
De Lima responded to Duterte's attacks, saying he should "just work" amid the surge of COVID-19 infections and death toll in the Philippines.
"Maawa ka naman sa taumbayan. Namamatay na mga mahal nila sa buhay ako pa rin ang problema mo?" she said on Twitter. "Kung nagtrabaho ka lang sana hindi tayo umabot sa ganito. Huwag ka na lang puro ngawngaw."
De Lima noted Duterte initially didn't allow to ban people from China entering the Philippines during the pandemic onset, even though COVID-19 had started to spread from the Asian neighbor to all parts of the world.
"Alam naman ng lahat na ikaw ang ayaw magban sa mainland Chinese noong kumakalat na ang virus dahil tuta ka nila," she said.
Last January, a group of human rights experts working with the United Nations called for De Lima’s release in 2018, concluding that her detention was arbitrary in a report.
De Lima’s criticism of Duterte’s war on drugs “triggered measures of reprisals against her,” the group said, citing the justice department investigation and her subsequent detention since February 2017.