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Spare my family, Leila tells Digong

An emotional Senator Leila de Lima yesterday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to spare her colleagues, friends, and family from his tirades against her as she defends herself saying she is not the enemy in the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

De Lima made the call in a press briefing at the Senate early morning, a few minutes before the Senate public order and dangerous drugs’ joint hearing into the Duterte government’s anti-illegal drug campaign started.

An irate Duterte earlier lambasted the senator as an “immoral” and an adulterer for questioning his government’s campaign against drugs and scheduling a two-day probe into the alleged extra judicial killings and summary executions happening simultaneously with the police operations. De Lima is head of the Senate justice and human rights.

“Words cannot express what I am feeling right now. I guess no one can, because no one has ever been attacked in such a manner by no less than the highest official of the land, until now. How does one defend oneself, when the attacker is immune from suit, and has all the backing of executive power to support him in his personal attack?” De Lima said reading her prepared statement.

“This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power. I don’t think the Constitution has ever contemplated such abuse of power on such a scale, as it assumes every President to conduct himself in a manner befitting the office he holds. It seems that this is not the case for this President,” the senator said.

If Duterte’s attack against her is his way of stopping her committee’s investigation on the extra judicial killings, De Lima said “he can try until he finally silences me or the Senate.”

“But I think it is already clear that what is being done to me is what will happen to anyone who does not bow to the wishes of the President. If stopping the Senate investigation is the only way for these personal attacks by the President and his men to also stop, believe me I have already thought about that,” she said.

She also said she has long been receiving information that fabricated evidences would be used against her to taint her credibility and her character, but refused to entertain the allegations.

“Sana po ay hindi pa sarado ang inyong isip na pakinggan muna ang aking panig, bago ninyo ipagpatuloy ang paninira sa aking pagkatao sa harap ng publiko at taumbayan,” she said. (HANNAH TORREGOZA)