MANILA - Senator Leila De Lima claimed Wednesday that the statements of alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and her former driver Ronnie Dayan linking her to the illicit drug trade are meant to divert the public's attention away from the rampant killings in the government's anti-drug campaign.
De Lima said the issue of extrajudicial killings should never be relegated to the background of the "zarzuela" in the legislative inquiries where Espinosa and Dayan are witnesses.
"Hindi po katanggap-tanggap na nagiging manhid na tayo. Nagiging manhid na tayo kasi hindi tayo nagsasalita, kasi pilit na inililihis ang tunay na issue about sa EJKs, tungkol sa Marcos burial diyan sa mga zarzuela na iyan, mga testimonies kuno," she said.
"Iyang pagpapalabas kay Kerwin Espinosa ay kunwari ay may ganoong sinasabing admission si Ronnie Dayan, ito po ay talagang panglilihis sa tunay na issue ng EJK."
De Lima aired these sentiments at a Mass for victims of extrajudicial killings held at Redemptorist Church in Baclaran on Wednesday, just hours after Espinosa testified in a Senate hearing that the lawmaker received drug funds.
The Mass was organized by newly-created human rights coalition NakPhilippines or Network Against Killings in the Philippines which condemns the government's approach to solving the drug menace.
"Patuloy tayong magsalita na masama ang pagpatay lalo na ang pagpatay na walang proper process," Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said at the Eucharistic celebration.
NakPhilippines said most of the victims of extrajudicial killings are fathers who were breadwinners of poor families.
"One family, father killed, three children in school -- who will take care of these children? They solved one problem but they added three," said Fr. Nonong Fajardo.
De Lima urged the public to ask the government to stop the slays.
As she met with churchgoers who wished her well, she also asked for them, "Please continue to pray for me." -- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News