The looming Duterte-de Lima verbal skirmish


Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima

The plan of Sen. Leila de Lima to investigate the killings emanating from the Philippine National Police’ s (PNP) relentless drive against illegal drugs operation around the country, purportedly in aid of legislation, is certainly inviting a verbal skirmish from President Rodrigo Duterte himself.

De Lima who was once a chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and who is expected to head the Senate justice committee seems to be insinuating that not only is human rights exceedingly violated but people are killed without the benefit of a full and fair trial which amounts to summary execution or extra-judicial killing.

I do not know if de Lima wants to grandstand this early in her career as senator, perhaps    flaunting her being a Justice Secretary not too long ago, but she should understand or perhaps should be reminded that those killed are the once opting to shoot it out with the police forces instead of cooperating with the law like the thousands of others all over the country who are voluntarily giving up the vice and surrendering after being asked to for their own sake.

Calling for an investigation on this issue this early will not do de Lima any good nor will it benefit the country. On the contrary, it will only highlight more her inadequacies, like I mentioned in my blog a few days ago. (

In fact, no less than Solicitor General Jose Calida, who was once undersecretary of the justice department in the Arroyo administration, has already started questioning de Lima’s ineffectiveness, saying, “There is no need for investigation in aid of legislation kuno (supposedly). Secretary de Lima, who was Secretary of Justice for 6 years… what happened during her tenure? Lalong lumakas ang proliferation of droga (Drugs proliferated more) even in her own turf, at the national penitentiary.”

Calida, reportedly, added: “If she’s truly sincere to stop this drug menace, let us ask her: what did she do as justice secretary in charge of the [National Bureau of Investigation], the prosecution service, and the correctional?”

Even PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa admitted feeling harassed, no doubt by people like de Lima, as he was tasked by Duterte to put a cap on the proliferation of illegal drugs by going after drug lords and drug users and pushers. Because of his dogged loyalty to and strong belief in Duterte, Dela Rosa instead urged his men to move forward in their operations and to not be “intimidated” by the threats of cases filed against them.

But the morale booster was Calida himself who promised the PNP hierarchy and its personnel that he will defend them to the hilt if anybody attempts to derail the effort exerted now by the organization to implement the order of Duterte to stop the illegal drug operation in the country.

Needless to say that more than Dela Rosa’s and Calida’s fight, drug menace in the Philippines is Duterte’s personal fight and de Lima and whoever else in Congress who opposes the way it is done must have to contend with the tough talking and iron fist president himself.



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