MAGANES: Duterte versus De Lima
Undoubtedly, Senator Leila De Lima is the dilemma of President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte. The rift between them has escalated to a level of personal attacks, which the lady senator could no longer accept. Duterte’s exposes about her, digging into her personal affairs,showed his bitterness for De Lima. He called her immoral for allegedly having an affair with her driver, Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, who hails from Galarin, Urbiztondo in Pangasinan.
It was said that the bad blood between the lady senator and the president started many years ago. De Lima who was then the chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) investigated Duterte for the alleged salvaging and summary executions of drug personalities and criminals in Davao City where he was the mayor. Duterte was perceived to be behind those killings through the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Nothing came out concrete from those investigations. The link of Duterte to DDS was never established.
Duterte was elected as President of the Philippines while De Lima was elected as Senator. Both positions call for decency and sobriety. It seemed, however, that these words are not in the vocabulary of the two government officials. Word war ensued. Respect for each other was set aside. Hatred seems to be flourishing in the air between them.
In exposing De Lima’s personal life, was Duterte on the right track? He was criticized by feminists of having lost his cool. Others are criticizing him that his actions and words were unpresidential and out of context. It was ad hominem to the highest degree, pro-De Lima’s supporters cried. How far can our President’s tirades against the lady senator go? Is it right for him to shame an elected senator to the public, much so defame her no end? De Lima cried foul and said President words against her were pure ” character assassination”. On Duterte’s part, he said that as long as De Lima is a public official, even her private life is subject to the scrutiny of the people.
Why is the rift between them that heavy for the Filipinos to bear? We all expect sudden change and reforms in the government. That alone has catapulted Duterte to the presidency. His war waged against illegal gambling has exposed the wide scale drug operations in the country. Filipinos are indeed surprised that the illegal drugs has permeated all walks of life. With more than 600,000 drug personalities who surendeered to the various police stations in the country, it was a shame to the previous administrations that did not act on it. In carrying out the bloody war, many drug personalities have lost their lives that even innocent ones were not spared. However, not only drug personalities were killed, even police officers have perished in their Operations Tokhang.
This situation has prompted De Lima to conduct investigation or inquiry at the Senate House, she being the chair of the Senate Committee on Justice. She has speculated that the police officers have a hand on the summary executions and salvaging, which was denied by Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa. The call for Senate inquiry was resented by President Duterte pointing out that even police officers have also been killed in their operations. He’s expecting support from the lady senator but he seemed to have been ignored.
Now, things have gone to worst. President Duterte has opened a pandora’s box against De Lima. Her driver was dragged into the rift. He was referred to as the lover and the bagman of De Lima during the last election with money to support her candidacy from the drug lords who are incarcerated at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa. It was even alleged that De Lima has constructed two houses for her driver cum lover in Pangasinan, which lately was feasted on by media men and even netizens on social media. All these were denied by De Lima but President Duterte is unperturbed. He promised to expose more about De Lima’s connection to the drug lords, a perception that need to be validated. De Lima is on the quandary why the President has singled her out among the senators and other lawmakers. She asked: “Why are you doing this to me?”
The rift has to end. It does not augur well to the change and reform expected from Duterte’s administration. Why don’t cooler minds- those who are friends of both sides, intervene? Or, why won’t De Lima seek an audience with the President and clear herself. In these days of changes, we need leaders who have political will to put end to our miseries that have been haunting us for years. But please, don’t compromise “statesmanship.”
(For comments and suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at http://www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com. Listen to my radio program “VIRGIL MAGANES SA DWPR” aired over DWPR Radyo Asenso, 1296 KHZ AM Band at 8:00-9:00 AM, Mondays to Saturdays.)
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