MANILA — "Why not enter showbiz na lang... We still get the comedy, but this time without the bloodbath. Everybody wins."
This was the unsolicited advice of detained Sen. Leila de Lima to President Rodrigo Duterte amid speculation the chief executive would run as vice president in 2022.
"The only reason why the Filipino people will vote Duterte for Vice President in 2022 is for his entertainment value. Filipinos are very fond of comedians," De Lima said in her 1,086th "Dispatch from Crame," a series of statements penned while she's detained at the national police headquarters over drug charges.
In May, the ruling party PDP-Laban voted to come up with a resolution urging Duterte to run for vice president in 2022 and to choose his running mate. Duterte is chairman of the party.
Last week, Duterte said running for vice president made sense.
"There are a lot of people pushing me to run for vice president. It is a good idea, I think, particularly if we talk about the drug problem," he said in a speech in Malacañang.
According to De Lima, "clown" Duterte could be after the immunity from suit afforded to a vice president, who can only be removed via impeachment.
"For Duterte becoming VP means another free pass at making fun of [the] public... But more than that, it is really for another six years of being an official who, albeit not immune, can only be removed by impeachment," she said.
It could also be Duterte's escape plan from the prospect of an International Criminal Court (ICC) trial, De Lima said.
"He thinks he can escape the ICC and accountability for his crimes against humanity by becoming a VP this time... The ICC does not recognize either immunity or impeachability in going after criminals... He is still going to be arrested and dragged in chains to The Hague anyway," the senator said.
A former prosecutor of the ICC had already asked the court to allow a full investigation into the killings in the anti-narcotics campaign that Duterte unleashed when he took office in 2016. The ICC has also issued the call for families of victims of the drug war to submit their concerns and views in connection with the request for investigation.
De Lima, a staunch administration critic, faces three drug cases before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. She has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February 2017.
She denies drug links, saying the charges are politically motivated.