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Poe tells De Lima ethics probe to be fair
Sen. Grace Poe is a member of the ethics panel which will handle the probe on the complaints filed against De Lima, including the alleged obstruction in the House inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). Senate PRIB/Albert Calvelo
MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Grace Poe yesterday assured Sen. Leila De Lima of a fair probe by the Senate ethics committee, provided the senator would explain why the illegal drug problem apparently flourished during her term as secretary of justice.
Poe is a member of the ethics panel which will handle the probe on the complaints filed against De Lima, including the alleged obstruction in the House inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
She said the rift between De Lima and President Duterte should not always be blamed on politics and the senator must explain why she was being tagged in the NBP illegal drug trade.
“Sen. De Lima was justice secretary in the past administration when all these things flourished in the Bilibid and anywhere else,” Poe told ANC.
She said it’s proper for De Lima to answer the allegations against her.
Poe rejected moves by some sectors to look into De Lima’s private life.
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Like De Lima, Poe did not sign a Senate committee report clearing the administration from any involvement in extrajudicial killings.
Poe said she empathizes with the former justice chief, especially with Duterte and many other individuals accusing De Lima of receiving drug money.
“But she cannot just ‘brush off’ the allegations. She must explain herself,” she said.
Among those who accused De Lima of accepting money were NBP convicts, drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and her former lover and driver Ronnie Dayan.
Aside from criminal charges, De Lima is facing an ethics complaint for allegedly advising Dayan to snub the House inquiry.
De Lima may face penalties ranging from reprimand to expulsion should the panel find merit in the complaint.
Poe said the coming proceedings in the ethics committee, chaired by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, might be difficult and that De Lima is aware that all public officials are accountable to the people.
“But I will be very fair, look at the merits of the case and if it really has something to do with what she has done as a senator,” Poe said.
‘Drug war like Nazi Holocaust’
De Lima is expected to return to the country this week following a series of engagements in the US and Germany, where she criticized the Duterte administration for the drug-related extrajudicial killings.
She likened the war against illegal drugs to the Nazi Holocaust.
De Lima said Duterte’s recent pronouncement that he wants to execute six criminals per day once the death penalty is restored was an understatement, considering how determined the President has been in taking out people involved in illegal drugs.
“The emerging comprehensive program of this administration revolves around death and killing. Given that around 20 or more are being summarily executed everyday, it is even an understatement that Duterte will execute only a quarter of that number every day once the death penalty law is passed,” De Lima said.
“I won’t put it beyond him to order the execution of twice that number just to match the statistics on EJKs,” she added, referring to the extrajudicial killings.
The manner in which the administration is carrying out the war against illegal drugs and the rising number of killings prodded De Lima to compare it to the way the Nazis in Germany killed over six million Jews during World War II.
Just as Hitler saw the murder of Jews as the “final solution,” De Lima said Duterte’s campaign to eliminate the drug problem through summary and legal executions is not at all different.
“This ‘final solution’ eerily harks back to the final solution of the Nazis to their so-called Jewish problem. Duterte is just on his way to delivering on his promise to exterminate the supposed three million addicts who he regards as sub-humans,” De Lima said.
For criticizing the war against illegal drugs and the extrajudicial killings, De Lima has been treated as an enemy of the President and his supporters.
The President has accused De Lima of involvement in the illegal drug trade and for allegedly turning the country into a “narco state.”
Many of the President’s supporters, including members of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and Solicitor General Jose Calida, tagged De Lima as “public enemy number one” and “patron saint of narco politics.”
De Lima said Duterte’s supporters are “expected to echo his insanity.”
“I’d rather not dignify yet another act of lunacy on the part of those evil minds. They’re as unhinged as their principal,” she said.