Duterte behind demolition job against me - De Lima

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — "No one else. It's the President."

Senator Leila De Lima has tagged President Rodrigo Duterte as the man behind what she calls a "massive demolition job" against her.

She denied claims she allowed drug lords run the prison system during her term as Justice Secretary, telling CNN Philippines the President and his allies are fabricating evidence to discredit her and her probe on government's drug war.

"So, he wants me out. He wants me finished," the Senator said.

There has been bad blood between the two ever since De Lima, then the head of the Commission on Human Rights, investigated alleged extrajudicial killings under Duterte's leadership in Davao City.

She recalled they came face-to-face in a public hearing in 2009, where she "chastized" and "lambasted" him about reports of a so-called Davao Death Squad.

"He has not forgiven me for that. So, this is all part of a personal vendetta on his part," she said.

High-profile inmates from the New Bilibid Prison came out to testify against De Lima during a Senate probe. They claimed she protected drug lords in the maximum security units and allowed them to sell drugs from within the penitentiary, in exchange for millions of pesos in funding for her senatorial campaign.

But De Lima pointed out, none of the convicts could say they handed any money to her personally. She also denied talking on the phone with convicted robber Herbert Colanggo to coordinate the money delivery.

Even when Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre threatened to bare her bank accounts, he qualified that the accounts were not under her but were listed to dummy corporations instead, she noted.

"I'm sure, Secretary Aguirre and his operators know that there are no negative or adverse findings from [the] Anti-Money Laundering Council," De Lima said.

"I have no corporations," she added. At most, she disclosed, she was a board member of a non-stock, non-profit orphanage in her hometown.

Senate ouster was planned

Even De Lima's removal as the chair of the Senate Justice Committee was part of the campaign against her, led by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano — "the great apologist and the defender" of the President.

"I could sense it. I sensed it when Senator Alan started delivering his privilege speech. And I knew that they planned it out. I knew that they met before that day, September 19, Monday, when Senator Alan delivered his privilege speech. It was a perfect attendance on that day," she said.

However, De Lima admitted she knew there would be "consequences" when she made the surprise move to bring out Edgar Matobato as a witness during the Senate inquiry into the drug deaths.

The self-confessed hitman gave an explosive testimony, claiming Duterte ordered the killing of petty criminals, drug personalities and even personal enemies through the Davao Death Squad.

Interestingly, De Lima said she acted alone in the sudden surfacing of Matobato. She cleared the Liberal Party (LP) of any involvement in her plan to present him as a witness in the Senate.

"I was thinking, you know, at the back of my mind, I cannot involve them with this. Because I'm sure they would be suspecting this so-called Plan B, a grand plan that this could be the handiwork of Liberal Party," she said.

"Plan B," according to Cayetano, is the LP's scheme to overthrow the President and put in his place Vice President and LP standard bearer Leni Robredo; De Lima dismissed this plot as a "product of [Cayetano's] very fertile and wild imagination."

De Lima hinted that some members of the LP, particularly in the Lower House, have begun distancing themselves from her, even possibly believing the claims against her.

She said she only felt confident she had the support of the "genuine minority" in the House of Representatives, as well as her LP colleagues in the Senate.