Sen. De Lima to Pres. Duterte: ‘I am not an enemy’

MANILA — Embattled Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to stop the personal attacks against her, saying she is not an enemy.

An emotional De Lima faced the media in a press conference Thursday morning, admitting that she had thought many times whether to keep her silence or state her sentiments following the President’s tirades.

Last Wednesday, Pres. Duterte called De Lima an “immoral woman,” alleging that the senator’s driver “collects money” for her during the campaign and that the money was sourced from illegal drugs.

In De Lima’s statement, she said that Pres. Duterte should stop his personal attacks and keep her family and friends out of the issue.

“If you are bent on destroying me, please have the decency to spare my colleagues, friends, and family. Wala po silang kasalanan sa inyo [they have not done anything against you],” De Lima said.

“Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag-iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao [Stop the terror and humiliation. Let us go back to peace under the rule of law and simple respect to fellow human being],” she said.

“I have been loyal to my oath as a public servant. I am not the enemy here. Stop portraying me as one,” she added.

De Lima said that if the attacks against her are means for her to stop the Senate investigation on extrajudicial killings, she will remain unstoppable.

“If this is his way of stopping the Senate’s investigation on the extrajudicial killings, he can try until he finally silences me or the Senate,” De Lima said.

The Senator said all she is asking for is a fair fight.

“Pangulo po kayo. Senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigay ninyo sa akin ang ibinigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon sa kahit na kaninong na-aakusahan sa ilalim ng ating sistemang pang-legal [You are the President and I am only a Senator. All I’m asking for is a fair fight. I hope you could give to me what is already in the laws and under the Constitution, under our legal system],” De Lima said.

De Lima had been vocal about the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country following the Duterte administration’s relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

She was also vocal about the alleged involvement of Pres. Duterte in the so-called Davao Death Squad when the latter was still Davao City mayor and De Lima was then chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and later on, Department of Justice secretary. PNA/