CEBU CITY, Philippines — “Is he really serious about seeking the presidency?”
This was the reaction of former justice secretary and now senatorial aspirant Leila de Lima to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s comments and expletives that were aired on national television last Monday.
Speaking to reporters in Cebu on Wednesday, De Lima said she could not believe that a presidential candidate would use profanities and flaunt to the public how he killed criminals in Davao City, and how he carried on affairs with several women at the same time.
“Is that the behavior of someone who is running or seriously running for president? I’m in a quandary. It’s a mystery. What is he trying to do,” she said in a press conference at the Parklane Hotel in Cebu City.
De Lima said Duterte’s comments against Pope Francis, in particular, were “disturbing and scandalous.”
“Nakakahiya (It’s embarassing, it’s shameful) to say at the very least. It’s really an affront (to the Pope and Catholics in the Philippines),” she said.
Shown on national television last Monday, Duterte admitted saying “You son of a whore, Pope Francis, just go home” after he was trapped in heavy traffic when he was in Manila during the Holy Father’s visit last January.
The Davao City mayor also made public his being a womanizer and his involvement in extra-judicial killings of crime suspects in his place.
De Lima said Duterte’s remarks put him in bad light.
“Why did he do that? His statements were too much. With that kind of style, many would be turned off and indeed several people were turned off,” she said.
De Lima, who has been the subject of several tirades from Duterte, said the latter’s revelations regarding his involvement in extra-judicial killings in Davao City should be noted by investigating agencies in the country.
She said the National Bureau of Investigation had already secured a former hitman of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) for an investigation.
“The NBI, however, is still looking for other evidence so appropriate charges will be filed,” she said.
De Lima said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) earlier conducted a probe regarding the extra-judicial killings in Davao City.
Criminal charges were eventually filed against some Davao City policemen before the Ombudsman but there was no evidence to implead Duterte.
“You know what, Mayor Duterte talks sense in some issues. He’s mad at criminals and those involved in the illegal drug trade. I share his sentiments. But I won’t definitely agree with his decision to just kill criminals (without conducting proper trial),” De Lima said.
“As long as he will continue to do that, I will continue to fight him. No way I’ll support that kind of thinking. You can’t right a wrong with another wrong,” the former justice secretary and CHR chairperson said.
De Lima said Duterte’s actions on national television last Monday was not a good example to young people.
“He seems to project that it’s okay to speak expletives or it’s alright to kill. What kind of lesson is he imparting to us? Can we afford a president with that kind of mentality?,” she said.
De Lima clarified that she had nothing personal against Duterte who, like her, was a graduate of San Beda College in Manila.
“I would have wanted to personally talk to him during a San Beda homecoming the other night. I heard reports that he changed his mind and that he now wants to support my candidacy. I would have wanted to ask him. Unfortunately, he didn’t come,” she said. SFM