MALACAÑANG’S “birthday wish” for Sen. Leila De Lima is for her to be able to sleep soundly “despite her nightmares.”
“According to President Duterte, Senator De Lima has been having nightmares. So my birthday wish to the good senator is I hope she sleeps soundly tonight and thereafter,’’ chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo told reporters.
The senator, who will be celebrating her 57th birthday today, refused to answer Duterte’s allegation that it was her “sexcapades” with her former driver which got her linked to the drug trade in the NBP.
“Please, Mr. President...I’ll be 57 years old and still young. Sana po sa mga matitira ko pang mga taon dito, mahaba-haba pa naman ho siguro yan, God-willing, dito sa mundong ito, makabuluhan naman ang aking mga gagawin rather than ito na napipilitan akong sumagot sa mga kabulastugan na ito,” De Lima said on Thursday.
Panelo said he hopes De Lima is able to sleep soundly following Duterte’s allegations that she was involved in the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), as demonstrated in his matrix.
He said that Duterte’s tirade against the former DoJ chief and former human rights advocate and secretary is just the beginning. ‘’Patikim pa lang iyun,’’ he said.
Panelo also defended the supposed pieces of evidence Duterte has against De Lima, including an alleged wiretapped conversation of the senator and her alleged driver-lover.
De Lima’s driver, Ronnie Dayan, is accused of being De Lima’s link to the drug lords inside the NBP.
‘’It does not remove and/or alter fact that there was a taped conversation, and there is truth to what you hear in that conversation,’’ Panelo said.
Panelo also confirmed yesterday that President Rodrigo Duterte has ten witnesses to pin down De Lima in connection with her links to the illegal drug trade operating at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa.
Panelo said that apart from the six witnesses, there are four others who have signified their intention to testify against De Lima with regard to her links to the illegal drug activities at the national penitentiary.
Panelo bared that justice chief Vitaliano Aguirre has told him that the gathering of affidavits from the witnesses against De Lima is underway.
He tossed to Aguirre the matter of the actual filing of formal charges before the courts against De Lima and other personalities linked to the illicit activities.
Panelo also stressed that the spate of extrajudicial killings is not state-sanctioned but the handiwork of drug syndicates meant to silence those who could squeal on them.
“Ang nakikita natin ngayon ay patayan between syndicates. Iyan ang lagi nating i-emphasize at nakakalimutan ng lahat na iyong mga nasa sindikato—unang-una nagkaka-onsehan kaya nagkakapatayan,” Panelo told reporters as response to the statement of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that the International Criminal Court (ICC) can look into the country’s drug-related killings.
Panelo said that the lack of families complaining about the deaths of their loved ones amid the drug war justifies his claim.
“The fact na walang nagrereklamong pamilya...Iyong mga sinasabi mo (nagrereklamo na pamilya), police ang involved, at dinemanda na iyon. Pero members ng sindikato, walang nagrereklamo. Sila-sila iyon. Alam nila. Pati pamilya nila alam na involved ang kamag-anak nila,” he explained.
But this does not mean that the government will be remiss in its duty to punish policemen who go beyond their mandate.
“Definitely if there’s probable cause, this government will be filing murder against these abusive police (officers) … In fact, we are encouraging everybody to tell us who is abusive, if they have evidence against any police station and inform us so we can make appropriate charges against those offenders,” he said.
“Dapat hindi na natatakot kasi ang ma pulis hindi lang homicide ang kinakasuhan, murder pa. Ibig sabihin, doon pa lang makikita mo na bibigyan sila ng proteksyon ng pamahalaan,” Panelo stressed.