With 16-4 votes, the Philippine Senate, more than its majority, expels Sen. Leila De Lima as chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s privilege speech triggers Sen. Manny Pacquiao to move that the Committee be declared vacant. In his privilege speech, Senator Cayetano reprehends Sen. Leila De Lima of her way of attending the chairmanship investigation on extrajudicial killings as “misleading” and using the Senate through her Committee for shaming Duterte Administration.
While the veteran Senate President Pro-Tempore Sen. Franklin Drilon claims the move of the neophyte Senator Pacquiao as out of the Senate rules, the Senate, by its more than the majority votes, removes Sen. Leila De Lima as chair of the Committee. A new set of members and chairmanship (now headed by Sen. Gordon) is installed immediately.
The public may ask: When the Senate expels or removes Sen. Leila De Lima as chairman of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, does it follow the principles of fairness and sensibility?
Given the issues on the alleged drugs involvement of Sen. Leila De Lima as drug protector, her credibility and the well-being of her partiality are already tainted. Given her being a long time vocal critique of President Duterte, her test of partiality to chair the Committee, which is ongoing of extrajudicial killings investigation, is undoubtedly askew to pin down President Duterte.
Sen. Leila De Lima wasn’t trained or raised to master the art of compartmentalizing human emotions, was she? Nor was she mistaken of being neutral when it comes to President Duterte. Then, she should have voluntarily excused herself to getting into a committee that directly motivates her “hates” to President Duterte. She should have that sense of being a “woman of integrity” rather than a “woman of enmity”.
With all these considerations, De Lima’s removal or expulsion from the Committee chairmanship was fair and sensible.
Did the public understand Sen. Leila De Lima?
The public understood Sen. De Lima one way or another. As my take, I understand De Lima on her fight against impunity. However, her history against Duterte, her press releases since then attacking the same personality, and her issues alleging her as drug protector vehemently defeat her means to justify her ends.
Politics of revenge is a politics of loss. A country cannot stand firm and proud in the middle of acerbic water serving interest just for the few. We may start forgetting the days when a division was the rule and betrayal was a new victory. The war on drugs that Duterte administration is pushing through is a Herculean task that expects a Pyrrhic victory.
No war shall be won without any cost. So as Duterte’s war on drugs cannot be won without sacrifice and collateral damage. If Sen. Leila De Lima is as serious as her fight to attain justice, then she should pride herself to face the DOJ witnesses eye-to-eye, evidence to evidence. Given that Sen. De Lima always appears fierce and fearless, then she should face her most destructive enemies fierce and fearless rather than excusing herself and be lamely contented to say them “brazen lies”! ▲