CRITICS of Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday demanded that she resign the chairmanship of the powerful Senate committee on justice and human rights as she herself was now under scrutiny for her alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
Lawyer Larry Gadon said De Lima’s credibility and partiality has been tainted following allegations of involvement in the illegal drug trade and rumors about “paramours.”
As this developed, relatives of Warren Cristobal, the man whom President Rodrigo Duterte identified as the new “boyfriend” of Senator Leila de Lima, said there was no truth to the President’s claim that the two had an affair.
“I do hope that these issues will be resolved, these has no truth. to the President's claim that the two had an affair.
“I do hope that these issues will be resolved, these has no truth. His kids’ school performance is already affected,” Luisa Maniquis, Cristobal’s aunt, told GMA News.
Duterte earlier said a certain “Warren,” who the President said used to work in the Metro Manila Development Authority, was De Lima’s newest “beau” after she parted ways with Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, who is now accused of having been her bagman in the national penitentiary.
Senator Jinggoy Estrada, in his Facebook account accused De Lima of giving a house, three jeepneys and a sports utility vehicle (SUV) to the 40-year-old Cristobal, who has two children, and a wife who is a teacher in Maypajo in Caloocan City.
The lady solon has denied having an affair with Cristobal, but has not made any categorical statement about Dayan.
“Is that evidence of our relationship? My God, this is too much!” De Lima exclaimed during a press briefing, after Duterte revealed that the former justice secretary wrote a letter to former MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino.
She explained that she wrote Tolentino an official request regarding the enforcer, but declined to elaborate on the nature of the request.
Gadon, who is also a member of the legal team of former President and reelected Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, said that as chairman of the committee on justice, De Lima has the power to influence appointments to the judiciary.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, automatically sits as member of the Judicial and Bar Council tasked to recommend to the Office of the President candidates for appointment to the metropolitan and regional trial courts, the Sandiganbayan, the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
“If doubt is cast on a member of the Judicial and Bar Council, how can she administer justice to suspected drug dealers?” he asked.
Gadon added that De Lima’s resignation as justice committee chairman would not mean that she is guilty of the allegations, but to clear the JBC from any doubts or controversy.
A church official in Cebu also urged the lady senator to abstain from attending the investigations on the rampant killing of suspected drug pushers and users.
Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesman of the Archdiocese of Cebu, said that even though De Lima deserves to be given due process, she must abstain as head of the investigation panel to avoid casting doubt on the Senate inquiry.
Tan also hoped that the investigations would unearth the truth and determine who are involved in the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug personalities.
Malacañang on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte holds “wiretapped” evidence that could possibly implicate De Lima in the narcotics web within the National Bilibid Prison, along with former Pangasinan governor and now Rep. Amado Espino Jr., and De Lima’s driver Ronnie Palisoc Dayan.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday said birthday wish for Senator Leila de Lima was “a good night’s sleep.”
“According to President Duterte, De Lima has been having nightmares. So my birthday wish for the good senator is I hope she sleeps soundly tonight and thereafter,” said Panelo.
Panelo added that Duterte’s exposés about the former justice secretary was just beginning.
“Stop? But the President has not even begun. That was just a foretaste,” he said, smiling.
De Lima, Aquino’s former justice secretary, is the highest ranking government official in the National Penitentiary drug matrix released by Duterte.
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