MANILA — Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday said she is willing to resign if President Rodrigo Duterte could prove her alleged links to illegal drugs, noting that she is ready to prove the President wrong.
“I am willing to resign, I am willing to be shot in front of the President. I just have to qualify true evidence, not coerced, manufactured, fabricated, invented,” de Lima told reporters during a press conference in Quezon City.
“I am confident to prove him wrong. I will stand by my innocence, any time now and forever,” she added.
De Lima, who has repeatedly denied allegations of drug coddling, said Friday that although most of the attacks against her were lies, there were “some snippets of facts” in them.
During the press conference, she admitted that Ronnie Dayan was indeed her former driver and bodyguard before she started working for the government. Dayan, she said, resigned in 2015.
She declined to confirm reports that Dayan was also her lover but acknowledged that they still communicate.
“No matter how close he is to me, I don’t want to touch on that because it is a personal matter. He no longer works for me as driver-bodyguard. He is no longer with me but we still communicate until now,” de Lima said.
The neophyte senator also rejected reports that the house she reportedly funded for Dayan were hers but admitted that she has visited the house a couple of times.
‘Leave him alone’
The former justice secretary meanwhile mentioned that a terrified Dayan called her recently to seek help after he reportedly received word that cops were “hunting him down”.
“I got a call from him, he was panicking, crying and telling me that he could not return to his home because there were cops looking for him,” de Lima recounted.
She further said that local cops have cautioned him to lie low because other cops would raid his home and make it look like he possessed firearms or even capture him and make him a state witness against his former boss.
Asked if she would seek help from authorities to guarantee Dayan’s safety, de Lima asked cops to leave him alone.
“‘Wag niyo damputin, puwede niyo lang siya damputin ‘pag meron kayong warrant of arrest, pero kung walang warrant of arrest, sana wag siyang galawin (Don’t arrest him unless you have a warrant of arrest. If you don’t have it, leave him alone),” de Lima said.
The senator also refused to believe that Dayan himself was involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I don’t think he could do that,” she said.
De Lima said that weeks after elections, sources were already warning her about some drug convicts willing to pull her down by bearing witness to her alleged drug links and Dayan being her alleged bagman.
She denied these reports anew, asking President Duterte if his attacks were his way of getting back at her for probing his alleged involvement in the notorious Davao Death Squad in 2009.
“Why is he so fixated on me? I think he has not yet forgotten and forgiven me when I was CHR (Commission on Human Rights) chairperson and I had investigated the issue on the Davao Death Squad,” she said.
“In open proceedings, I lambasted him, I lectured him on human rights but in fairness to him, he didn’t react in a negative way when I did that to him,” she added.
De Lima said that she did not want to accuse the President of anything but also admitted that she herself could not prove that the President was in fact, involved in the death squad.
“The whole point is to determine the truth because there are sources saying that it is possible that he is involved with them. He says I was never able to prove it. Yes, I have not been able to prove it,” the senator said.
“I admit, all this time, all these years I cannot file a case because I don’t hold any admissible evidence,” she added.
The former CHR chair also asked the President why it seemed like these attacks — including an alleged sex video of hers — came out coincidentally when she probes high-profile cases where he was involved.
“Every time I am in the middle of something a high-profile case, they release the so-called sex video. My staff told me they saw a still photo of what is being made to appear as a video, but of course I don’t watch them, I have better things to do,” de Lima said.
“My staff said they examined the picture and it is obvious that I am not the woman in there,” she added.
Duterte in his speech during the 115th service anniversary of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame on Aug. 17, mentioned that de Lima accepted drug money from the Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
Duterte made these remarks after de Lima last week called for a probe on the extrajudicial killings under the administration’s war on drugs. The probe is scheduled on August 22-23. Azer Parrocha/PNA/northboundasia.com