Recto: Duterte and De Lima both innocent until proven guilty

  • Senator weighed in on ongoing word war between Duterte and De Lima
  • He said both president and his colleague should be presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • He advised public not to readily believe the testimonies of their respective witnesses

MANILA, Philippines – Amid the back-and-forth exchange of accusations between President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Leila de Lima, Senate Minority Ralph Recto reminded the public that both of them should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Recto made the statement Friday as the Senate continues its hearings on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings in the government’s ongoing campaign against drugs. The hearing has since extended to include Duterte’s purported involvement in the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) when he was still mayor of Davao City.

According to Recto, the public should give both Duterte and De Lima the benefit of the doubt while maintaining a healthy skepticism on the testimonies of witnesses coming from both of their camps.

“My advice to the public is not to immediately believe in testimonies of whistleblowers. He or she must prove his allegations first,” he told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “That goes for both those accusing the President and Sen. De Lima. Both are innocent until proven otherwise.”

De Lima has accused Duterte of supporting the DDS and law enforcers in committing summary executions of criminals and suspects. The president on the other hand has accused the senator of coddling drug lords detained at the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) when she was still Justice Secretary.

The sources of both camps’ accusations have been heavily criticized, with De Lima questioning the reliability of Duterte’s drug matrix after the PNP, PDEA and NBI denied making it and the president’s supporters in turn questioning the credibility of her witness, alleged DDS member Edgar Matobato for making several errors during his testimony at the Senate hearing.