MANILA – While Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte “sympathizes” with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the issue between her and the religious group Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), he said on Sunday that De Lima broke protocol when she failed to refer the case before the Prosecutors Office.
Even though the mayor exchanged words with De Lima in the past, Duterte said that he knows that De Lima is currently in a difficult situation. However, the Justice Secretary should have not have placed the witnesses under her department, rather she should have endorsed it to the Prosecutors Office.
“What is being sought there is the intervention. I sympathize with her because people are saying that she should not have meddled with the issue,” said Duterte. “Regarding our past arguments, those are the days. She has a duty; I have mine. It’s purely just work.”
The Davao Mayor said that such cases must only be handed to the prosecution and not directly to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“If you are giving it too much attention or importance, which I’m not saying what De Lima is doing, you are merely asking for trouble,” said Duterte. “You should give it to the fiscal. Regardless of whether you file a case or not, you should give it to them.”
He added, “The problem is that you placed the case in the Department of Justice. Once a department handles it, then that’s higher. The prosecution should come first.”
The Justice Secretary recently drew the ire of the religious group for investigating the alleged illegal detention case against ousted INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. However, De Lima said that she is only doing her job.
This move resulted to a big INC rally on Thursday outside the DOJ office in Padre Faura, Manila. The group afterwards moved to EDSA, causing heavy traffic jams in Metro Manila. Thousands of motorists and commuters were stranded.