Pacquiao moves to unseat de Lima as committee chair


Posted at Sep 19 2016 05:09 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2016 09:34 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday moved to declare as vacant the post of Senator Leila de Lima as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, as well as the slots of its members.

"I move that the chairmanship and members of the committee on justice be declared vacant," said Pacquiao.

But Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon went against the motion, noting that Pacquiao's move was not allowed under the Senate rules. The session was suspended after Pacquiao's motion. 

Pacquiao's call came after his colleague Senator Alan Cayetano delivered a privilege speech slamming De Lima for her supposed partial handling of the committee's probe on the Duterte administration's drug war.

Cayetano lamented the committee was being used to go after the President, and that De Lima is destroying Duterte, destroying the Senate, and damaging the country.

"When she got here to the Senate and got the committee, she refused to be neutral... Let someone else chair it. In my past speeches, I'm not asking that she will be removed from the Committee on Justice, [but] only from certain hearings where we cannot expect cold neutrality," Cayetano said. 

De Lima, who was seen leaving the Senate hall during Cayetano's speech, admitted that she walked out because she could "no longer stand it." She said she will deliver her own privilege speech Tuesday. 

De Lima made headlines last week after she presented a surprise witness, Edgar Matobato, who claimed to have worked as a former hitman of long-time Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte's spokesmen and allies have belied Matobato’s statements, but Duterte himself has not publicly spoken up about the allegations. 

READ: Duterte mum on ex-hitman's allegations

Pacquiao made the move ahead of Matobato’s second appearance before De Lima’s committee scheduled on Thursday.

When asked for her reaction to Cayetano's remarks that she is destroying Duterte and the country, De Lima said: "What is destroying the reputation of this country are the killings! It's not me." 

- with a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News