Senator Leila de Lima was officially ousted as the chair of the Senate committee on justice yesterday, September 19, after a Senate majority vote of 16-4.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo tells Asian Dragon his thoughts on Senator De Lima’s ouster as Senate justice committee chair.

“The ouster of Senator De Lima as chair of the committee on justice is a testament to the overwhelming majority members of the Senate’s sense of propriety that it will not countenance a member’s propensity for besmirching the reputation of President Duterte by unfounded and malicious imputations using the committee as tool to achieve her end. She should have voluntarily inhibited herself from chairing such committee, having previously positioned herself as a political adversary of PRRD 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.

“Her being the subject of a House inquiry on her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drug activities in the Bureau of Penitentiary during her watch as Secretary of Justice should have heightened her sense of delicadeza. She should have removed herself from the justice committee instead of diminishing it and clinging like a leech to the investigating body. De Lima’s removal as chair is a comeuppance or a deserved rebuke from her peers in the Senate,” Panelo says.

As to Senator de Lima’s accusations that Pres. Duterte had a hand in orchestrating her ouster, Panelo had this to say: “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. Not wanting to blame herself for creating the circumstances that led to her ouster, De Lima points to PRRD as a scapegoat for her present predicament. Getting 2/3 negative vote of her own colleagues to remove her as chair of the committee on justice is an eloquent proof of her undoing and reckless abuse of her position as Senator.”

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