MANILA (UPDATE) – Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday scored several close allies of President Rodrigo Duterte for leading a campaign to discredit her.
De Lima, a member of the once powerful Liberal Party, lamented that there seems to be an orchestrated effort to discredit her and her accomplishments as former justice secretary under the Aquino administration.
De Lima has been criticized by key officials of the Duterte administration for her supposed role in the poor security at the national penitentiary.
''I have been vilified and attacked not only in social media but also by the president's men as a drug lord coddler and protector. The lies are intended to show me as protector of the Bilibid drug lords," De Lima said in a privilege speech.
After declaring her plan to probe the spate of alleged extra-judicial killings in Duterte's war on drugs, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will launch a probe against De Lima over the state of the national penitentiary.
In her speech, De Lima said Alvarez's planned probe goes against inter-parliamentary courtesy.
But De Lima said she won't use this excuse to dodge the probe. She said the fact that she was sued by high-profile inmates whom she ordered isolated and had received death threats prove that she is not in cahoots with drug lords.
Solicitor General Jose Calida had also scored De Lima's planned Senate probe, saying he will be the ''neutralizer'' to De Lima's role as ''fiscalizer." He also attempted to link De Lima to maximum security inmate Jaybee Sebastian by presenting a photo of the two together.
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De Lima countered this by saying that her job as Justice secretary entailed her meeting various kinds of people, including an inmate like Sebastian.
Duterte's police chief, meanwhile, also branded De Lima's Senate probe as ''legal harassment."
'WELL-OILED' SOCIAL MEDIA PROPAGANDA
De Lima lamented that on top of the heated statements from Duterte's allies, she has also been the subject of malicious internet posts.
A video clip and photo recently surfaced online claiming that De Lima was spotted with Herbert Colangco, a convicted robbery gang leader, at two parties in Manila and Quezon City.
She said the video supposedly showing her with Colangco was actually taken during her own birthday party at the Department of Justice (DOJ) quadrangle back in August 2015.
The person sitting next to her and who was speculated to be Colangco was actually Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas, De Lima added.
''I have been ridiculed and called names in social media. Photos are Photoshopped, videos are spliced, lies are manufactured,'' she said.
''The magnitude of the propaganda is mind-boggling considering that this is all directed at me. The lies are intended to show me as protector of the Bilibid drug lords."
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She said she would not back down against people operating a "well-oiled" social media propaganda machine aimed at destroying her reputation.
"I will not surrender my mandate as Senator of the republic to these unelected and unaccountable personalities whose own motivation in the demolition of my person is highly questionable and utterly despicable," she said.
'I CLEANED BILIBID'
De Lima said under her term, numerous raids were conducted at the New Bilibid Prison which led to the dismantling of illegal structures and seizure of contraband, a feat the senator said was ignored by the Duterte administration.
''The truth is, I was the only justice secretary since the 1986 EDSA Revolution who dared to eradicate the dominion of drug lords inside Bilibid,'' de Lima said.
"But of course, all this is being sorely forgotten in the face of a formidable demolition campaign against me in social media."
De Lima, who served as human rights commissioner under the Arroyo administration, has often butted heads with Duterte over the so-called Davao Death Squad and the new president's statements on his anti-crime crusade.
Duterte often mentions the situation at the Bilibid to demonstrate the drug problem in the country, saying it is only in the Philippines where a national penitentiary hosts drug laboratories.
But De Lima said Duterte's oft-cited claim can easily be debunked.
''There is no shabu lab inside the Bilibid prison, not even in the tunnels under it. Those who will search the tunnels will get to whiff not the smell of methamphetamine but of methane that comes from the human waste of the prisoners above,'' she said.
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She also chided Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for claiming that former DOJ officials were on the payrolls of drug lords.
She said while Aguirre did not mention names, it should be noted that "going by the previous statements of Solicitor General, one does not have to be a genius to guess who he is referring to."
"He has yet to create a task force that will conduct an actual investigation on his foregone conclusion that there were indeed payoffs," she said.
"This is a justice secretary confused about his law school memory about how due process works."