Updated 21:41 PM PHT Tue, September 20, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Citing "credible reports," Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday said Special Action Force (SAF) personnel are intimidating and possibly torturing Bilibid prisoners to fabricate testimonies against her.
At a House hearing that same day, six convicted drug lords — all inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (National Penitentiary) — testified that De Lima was actively involved in the illegal drug trade inside the prison facility.
De Lima, who did not attend the probe, dismissed the witnesses' statements.
In a privilege speech, De Lima said she received reports of inmates being taken by the PNP-SAF —which now mans Bilibid — for overnight interrogation sessions.
She called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to investigate the situation at the prison, and what she calls the "psychological torture" of inmates who are being forced to give false testimony.
She criticized the witnesses brought in by the Justice Department, saying these are persons who are "now being pressured to do Malacañang's bidding at the risk of being charged themselves."
"Prisoners are being selected and isolated just to be intimidated into implicating me and to fit the president's narrative that I am a drug lord coddler, aside from being the most evil woman in the planet," she said.
De Lima said she will not forgive those who are behind the efforts to invent false evidence against her.
'I'm not the problem'
The senator hit back at President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who blamed her for giving the Philippines a bad image abroad. De Lima insisted that she is not the problem.
She said the international media is focusing on the Philippines because of two things: the thousands of extrajudcial killings happening in the Duterte administration and the president's foul language.
The senator lambasted Duterte's "paid trolls" on social media: "Kapag hindi ka Pro-Duterte, ikaw ay drug lord coddler, ikaw ay pusher, ikaw ay isang adik." [If you're not Pro-Duterte, you're a drug coddler, a pusher, a user.]
De Lima: "Kapag hindi ka pro-Duterte, ikaw ay pusher, adik. Kapag hindi ka sumamba kay Poong Duterte, ikaw ay adik. pic.twitter.com/o6YC7u9tav— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) September 20, 2016
De Lima congratulated Cayetano for "his triumphant victory" of removing her from the justice and human rights panel.
"Does Senator Cayetano think removing me from the committee on justice will better the Philippine's international image? Perhaps. Senator Cayetano is free to dream," she said in Filipino.
She also congratulated her replacement, Senator Richard Gordon. De Lima hopes he will continue the probe on extrajudicial killings.
Alleged DDS core group
In the manner of President Duterte, De Lima revealed the names of more than 20 men who supposedly compose the core group of the vigilante Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Based on the testimony of confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato, De Lima's list mostly included police officers.
De Lima stood by her claim that Matobato is a credible witness, saying the vetting process for DDS members began in 2009 when she was still the CHR chair.