De Lima to Duterte: Show some decency

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Sen. Leila de Lima hits back at President Rodrigo Duterte for his personal attacks against her, dubbing the President's acts as "abuse and misuse of the executive power."

In a press conference at the Senate Thursday, a teary-eyed De Lima said the Constitution states the President should "conduct himself in a manner befitting the office he holds" - but he acted otherwise. 

"How does one defend oneself when the attacker is immune from suit and has all the backing of the executive power to support him in his personal attack?" the senator said.

Duterte on Wednesday told reporters De Lima had a driver-lover who collected money from drug sources for her campaign.

The senator claimed the President's personal attacks may be a way to stop the Senate's investigation on alleged extrajudicial killings. De Lima warned others might experience the same fate if they do not "bow" to the "President's wishes."

De Lima admitted she considered stopping the Senate probe on summary executions, if this will also stop the President from attacking her. But the Senator said she will be doing a disservice to the public - and herself - if she delays the investigation.

"Kapag ginawa ko po ito ay parang tinalikuran ko na rin ang sarili kong pagkatao, at itinatwa ang sarili kong paninindigan at paniniwala. Hindi na po ako ang tatayong kinatawan ng bayan sa Senado. Isang huwad na anyo ko na lamang ang tatayo doon. Para ko na rin pong binaon ang aking sariling pagkatao," De Lima said.

[Translation: "If I postpone the investigation, it's as if turning my back on myself, betraying my beliefs. I will not be the senator whom people voted for. It will be a false image of myself. It's as good as burying myself."]

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De Lima said she is ready to face the cases that Duterte may file against her, and asked the President to give her the chance to defend herself.

"Pangulo po kayo. Senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigay ninyo sa akin ang ibiinigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon sa kahit na kaninong naaakusahan sa ilalim ng ating sisteamang pang-legal," De Lima said.

[Translation: "You are the President. I am just a senator. I am just asking for a fair fight. I hope that you will grant me the rights of anyone accused, which are granted by the law and the Constitution."]

The Senator also urged Duterte to show some decency, go back to work, and spare her loved ones from personal attacks.

"If you are bent on destroying me, please have the decency to spare my colleagues, friends, and family. Wala po silang kasalanan sa inyo," De Lima said. "Tama na po ang pananakot at panghihiya. Bumalik na po tayo sa kaayusan na dulot ng pag-iiral ng batas at simpleng respeto sa kapwa tao." 

[Translation: "If you are bent on destroying me, please have the decency to spare my colleagues, friends, and family. They did nothing wrong to you. Stop raising fears and shaming people. Let us go back to decency through implementing the rule of law and respecting others."]

'Jumping to conclusions'

A statement of the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson said Duterte is aware of the parameters of public discourse, citing his exchange with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

It added Duterte is appalled by Sen. De Lima's history of jumping to conclusions about his "culpability without sufficient evidence, lack of appreciation of the magnitude of the menace, and taking the opportunity to  grandstand in spite of the gravity of the situation."

It said the President took offense with regard to De Lima's assumptions that the recent killings are directly linked to his war on drugs.