MANILA — Senator Leila De Lima on Thursday laughed off allegations of involvement in the illegal drug operations in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), describing the so-called drug matrix as worthless.
“As I have often said, I will not dignify any further this so-called drug matrix which, any ordinary lawyer knows too well, properly belongs to the garbage can,” De Lima told reporters in an interview.
De Lima said she was amused by how President Rodrigo Duterte, who released the matrix, is bent on linking her to the illegal drug trade in the NBP.
She called the accusations “a joke,” adding that even a 12-year-old could draw such a matrix.
“Was it a joke? Like most of his jokes before, this latest one he will surely regret. But yes, please amuse me at how his men have desperately tried to link me with the “Muntinlupa Connection” flick,” De Lima said.
Holding a copy of the matrix, the former Justice Secretary said it looked rushed and had grammatical errors.
She added all arrows in the matrix seemed to point to former Pangasinan Governor and now Pangasinan Representative Amado Espino Jr.
“Are they trying to say that Governor Espino is my boss? I had Espino investigated at NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) when I was DOJ (Department of Justice) Secretary. It was dismissed at preliminary investigation level then and now they will say we’re in cahoots?” De Lima said.
“This whole madness is almost laughable,” she said, noting that she has not even met the congressman personally.
Asked to react on Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre’s comment to present affidavits of at least six witnesses during the House probe into her alleged involvement, De Lima stood by her innocence.
“They won’t be able to get evidence because I am 100 percent sure of my innocence. I have no connections whatsoever to the drug links,” she said.
De Lima said she would no longer want to comment on the allegations as she preferred to focus on her work.
“Every time I speak, the President will hold a presscon and waste so much time, three-fourths of his time, talking about me,” she said.
De Lima, former chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), also came to the defense of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief, General Franklin Bucayu, who resigned because of alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
“That’s why he resigned. He could no longer take the allegations against him, he fell ill. He already resigned, I cannot imagine how his family must feel. Of course I cannot speak for the others but it’s hard to believe that there are people serving as my bagmen,” De Lima said.
Set to celebrate her 57th birthday on Saturday, De Lima said she has only two wishes — for the President to stop trying to destroy her, and to have a “partner” to console with.
“Mr. President, I’ll be celebrating my birthday this Saturday. I hope in my remaining years here, I can do something significant rather than having to deal with this foolishness,” De Lima said in Filipino.
“It’s not for my own sake but for the sake of my family, the President himself and the country. This war against drugs is slowly becoming war versus De Lima,” she added.
On claims she has a new lover named “Warren,” De Lima said she is currently single but wanted a “love life.”
“I don’t have a boyfriend at the moment, I don’t have a love life. My second wish, a personal wish, is to have a love life, to have someone to be with with what I’m going through because I’m bearing all of this on my own,” a teary-eyed De Lima said.
She clarified that this certain Warren, who President Duterte said worked for the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), is part of the security staff assigned to her.
The neophyte senator, however, described the President’s revelation as “plain and simple chismis (gossip),” maintaining that she would not allow this to diminish her credibility.
“Maybe it’s part of their strategy…trying to diminish my credibility and trying to break my spirit. They’re dead wrong if they can think they can break my spirit,” De Lima said. Azer Parrocha/PNA/northboundasia.com