Commentary: Sen. De Lima’s Dilemma


People thought that when Duterte shook the hand, and made a funny face with Sen. Leila De Lima during Duterte’s first SONA Address, it looked like that the enmity of a long time ago between them had been thawed. Sen. De Lima even said she was flattered by the president’s gesture. And for Duterte, it could have been an indication of “peace be with you”.

Then, all of a sudden, Duterte, after dropping off a blind item in one of his talks said he would soon reveal a woman government official who would cry for his impending revelations.

During the president’s speech on the occasion of the 115th Anniversary of the Philippine National Police, Duterte insinuated that it is the lady Senator Leila De Lima, head of the Senate’s Justice Committee, as the woman he is referring to. Incidentally, De Lima would start the Senate investigation, which would grill Duterte’s top honchos of his drug war that escalates incidence of extra-judicial killing (EJK).

Duterte, foaming at the mouth pilloried Sen. Leila de Lima as an immoral woman for having a driver lover who collected money from the drug lords of the National Bilibid Prison – short of saying the money collected could have been used in De Lima’s senatorial campaign.

President Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima’s advocacies by its nature was destined to clash. While Sen. De Lima subscribed to the sanctity of human lives, Duterte’s insensate tendencies to lives lost because of his unbridled passion stopping the illegal drug menace would engage in a destructive collision.

The infighting between the executive and the legislative branches of the government would disrupt pertinent government’s function. And would stall the momentum of the on-going trajectory in suppressing the illegal drug problems. And to think that the cause of this rift is simply personal, like a kid’s brawl.

The bad blood between Duterte and De Lima boiled hot when Sen. De Lima, during President Arroyo’s time as Chairman of the Human Rights Commission investigated Duterte, the then Mayor of Davao for his alleged involvement in the “Davao Death Squad”.

Duterte recalled that he had kept a copy of the CD recordings of what De Lima uttered: that she has evidence to prove he is the man behind the “Davao Death Squad” to which later, Duterte said De Lima never came out with one.

De Lima ratcheted up her rhetoric against Duterte when she denounced in her privileged speech the spate of extra-judicial killings under Duterte’s illegal drug campaign.

Furthermore, she broached the idea that crimes against humanity may be brought to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Duterte if the extra-judicial killings would not be abated under his watch.

De Lima’s impending Senate investigation against EJK all the more pissed off Duterte, because that means De Lima will ‘show off’ at the expense of his men.

Sec. Jesus Dureza, Presidential Peace Adviser, who have known Duterte since high school, said, to this effect, of his boss: Don’t make trouble or mess with him, as he will get you and offer a fight, then he just leaves.

Dureza’s insight is a reflection, now if anyone dared to cross with Duterte. A tiff between him and Socrates Villegas of CBCP, between him and the CPP-NDF, NPA, between him and the Chief Justice, Sereno, and now between him and De Lima.

In all of these Duterte project an aura of a sure-footed actor, crude maybe his style is; devoid of morality, decency, and civility. But as always he disarms whoever crosses his path. And then move on to his next fight – his next agenda for the country.

Now, in a surprise move, he’s bent on dealing with the corrupt bureaucracies; by declaring all presidential appointees to vacate their post.

Who will be Duterte’s next target? There will be for sure. Watch his “Next Attraction”.