Senator Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday denied insinuations that President Duterte had a hand in the ouster of Senator Leila de Lima as chairperson of the Senate justice and human rights committee Monday night.
Gatchalian said the President did not influence him to vote in favor of De Lima’s removal as head of the panel which is investigating the spate of extrajudicial killings and summary executions in the country.
“To my knowledge, President Duterte was not involved in any way in the Senate’s decision to remove (her). I have yet to speak to the President since he assumed office, and I certainly did not consult him or any member of his administration before casting my vote to remove Senator De Lima,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
The senator said the 16 senators, who voted to oust De Lima, merely wanted to put a stop to De Lima’s attempt to use the committee to derail Duterte’s drug campaign.
“Senate committees are tasked with shaping policy direction and crafting legislative reforms. Unfortunately, under the leadership of Senator De Lima, the Committee on Justice had become a hollow vehicle for the fulfillment of personal political vendettas,” the senator said.
“We simply had to put a stop to that, both for the benefit of the Senate as an institution, and for the people this august body represents,” he added.
Gatchalian strongly believes the Senate made the right move.
“The decision we were faced with on Monday was a difficult one, but in the end I am confident that we made the right choice to protect the integrity of the Senate and to safeguard its reputation as a true and faithful instrument to further the interests of the Filipino people,” he said.
“I trust that my dear colleague, Sen. Richard Gordon, will now lead the Justice Committee the way it should be led – with objectivity, dignity, and integrity,” Gatchalian said. (Hannah Torregoza)