De Lima won’t attend the lower house’s “Salem Witch Trials”

She called it President Rodrigo Duterte’s kangaroo court, an inquisition reminiscent of the dark ages and Salem witch trials. Whatever it actually is, Senator Leila de Lima vowed never to attend the lower house hearing on the propagation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary or the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during the Aquino administration.

De Lima’s suspicion is that the House inquiry is really meant to place her on trial for her alleged involvement in the Bilibid drug trade—something she has already denied for the nth time.

“The House conducting this inquiry to try me before false witnesses is not democracy. The House conducting this inquiry is Duterte’s kangaroo court conducting the Salem witch trials and burning me at the stake,” de Lima stated when asked for her comment on the matter on Sunday, August 28.

“This is not democracy, this is an inquisition straight from the dark ages,” she added in a text message.


She questioned how the House inquiry can be used in aid of legislation. Congressional investigations, such as the one de Lima heads in the Senate on the alarming frequency of drug-related extrajudicial killings, become legitimate only if they help in lawmaking. The House hearing was initiated almost at the same time her Senate primary committee started its task.

“They intended the House inquiry to be my trial in lieu of a court and a judge. There is no legitimate, bona fide agenda, in aid of legislation, that underlie such inquiry except to serve as another forum for demolition,” de Lima insisted.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Sunday said the lady senator’s frequent denial of her involvement does not suffice. It’s “not how democracy works,” Alvarez clarified.

But de Lima rebutted: “As far as I know I am not on trial. No formal complaint has been filed against me. But that is the purpose of their inquiry with all the so-called Bilibid witnesses all lined up to be presented in the House inquiry.”

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre revealed last week that six witnesses were prepared to testify in the said House hearing. Included among them are prisoners, Bilibid guards, and even de Lima’s “friends.” Their testimonies will prove how she had received drug money from the Bilibid drug trade during her stint as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Bureau of Corrections overseeing operations at the NBP is under the DOJ.

Moreover, Duterte himself, no less, had exposed de Lima’s reported links to the drug trade. The president also incriminated de Lima’s alleged former “driver-lover” Ronnie Dayan in the case.

De Lima has repeatedly denied the charges, saying beforehand that any evidence or witnesses’ testimonies released against her would be false.

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