De Lima: 'We cannot wage the war against drugs with blood'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Amid online rumors that she is protecting the drug trade, Sen. Leila De Lima on Tuesday said she supported President Rody Duterte's war on drugs. But she insisted there must be another way to do it.

The former Justice secretary said she was concerned about the ongoing vigilante killings of alleged drug criminals.

"We cannot wage the war against drugs with blood," De Lima said in a privilege speech addressed to President Duterte, her fellow senators, and the Filipino people.

She said doing so would only trade drug addiction with the "compulsion for killing."

De Lima said the vigilante killings have prompted "do-it-yourself" justice, with killings done instead of proper police investigations.

"A 91 percent approval rating for the President and what he stands for is a formidable record," the senator said. "But we cannot base our reactions to these killings on the popularity of the President. Popular or not, murder must stop."

She wished the police would honor the rule of law when dealing with drug criminals. Citing the right to life, De Lima reminded the President that "All lives matter."

'Demolition campaign'

De Lima called the online accusations against her as a "well-oiled social media demolition campaign." She said she was being projected as an enemy of the government.

De Lima said these attacks were not limited to social media, saying even the President's men had "vilified" her.

The senator recently filed Senate Resolution No. 9, which seeks a probe into drug-related killings and summary executions. Presidential Legal Counsel Sal Panelo said this resolution seemed to be motivated by "speculation and conjecture."

This was after videos and photos that showed De Lima partying with Herbert Colangco, a druglord jailed in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), went viral.

In her speech, De Lima said these were propaganda and misinformation.

Last week, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre claimed that Justice officials from the Aquino administration were being paid by NBP druglords. Although no names were mentioned, De Lima said she knew Aguirre was referring to her.

In response to De Lima's probe, Solicitor General Jose Calida said he would not allow anyone to get in the way of the government's anti-drug efforts. While national police Chief Bato Dela Rosa said he and his men were in danger of "legal harassment and counter-charges" because of their campaign against drugs.

The senator said these statements were "regrettable" and regardless of the "hate campaign," she would continue opposing the ongoing murders.

Related: Robredo urges authorities to probe drug-related extrajudicial killings