MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo on Tuesday said Senator Leila de Lima’s ouster as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice is her own undoing and a comeuppance for abusing her position in the powerful panel.
In a statement, Panelo said that De Lima’s ouster is a testament that the majority of Senate members will not tolerate her propensity for using her position to achieve her own agenda “through unfounded and malicious imputations.”
“De Lima’s removal as Chair is a comeuppance or a deserved rebuke from her peers in the Senate,” Panelo said.
The Palace official said the embattled senator should have inhibited herself from heading the Senate panel for having had previous bias judgments against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“She should have voluntarily inhibited herself from chairing such committee having previously positioned herself as a political adversary of President Duterte many years back when as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights, she embarked on a biased and unsuccessful investigation of extra-judicial killings in Davao City concluding that the then Davao City Mayor Duterte was behind the death squad even before she commenced her probe,” he said.
“Her being the subject of a House inquiry on her alleged involvement of the proliferation of illegal drug activities in the Bureau of Penitentiary during her watch as Secretary of Justice should have heightened her sense of delicadesa and removed herself from the justice committee instead of diminishing it and clinging like a leech to the investigating body,” Panelo said.
The presidential adviser said that De Lima is now using the President as a scapegoat for her ouster even if Duterte had continuously defended the independence of a co-equal branch of government.
“PRRD does not interfere with the affairs of an equal branch of the government nor does he influence the outcome of any of its activity. Such intrusion is anathema to his character,” he said.
“Not wanting to blame herself for creating the circumstances that led to her ouster, De Lima points to PRRD as her escape goat for her present predicament. Getting two-thirds (2/3) negative vote of her own colleagues to remove her from the Chair of the Committee on Justice is an eloquent proof of her undoing and reckless abuse of her position as Senator,” Panelo said.