MANILA - A lawmaker leading an investigation on alleged illegal drug operations in the national penitentiary dared on Saturday Senator Leila de Lima to testify in the inquiry to clear her name.
Convicted crime lords told the House of Representatives committee on justice this week that they sold illegal drugs from behind bars from 2013 to help fund then justice secretary De Lima's senatorial campaign.
"If she really wants to clear her name and help government stop the proliferation of illegal drugs not just in the NBP but also in the entire country, then she may wish to appear in our next hearing instead of casting aspersions on the integrity of our probe through media," said Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali.
De Lima refused to attend the hearings, calling it a sham. She also dismissed the witnesses' statements as "perjured."
"May I ask?: Does she expect angels to squeal?" said Umali, who chairs the House justice committee.
"We summoned witnesses who have first hand-knowledge of the illegal activities in prison. Who else can they be but convicted criminals themselves?" he added.
The House hearings came a week after De Lima led a Senate investigation on the mounting deaths linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
She presented self-confessed assassin Edgar Matobato, who claimed Duterte ran a vigilante hit squad during his term as Davao City mayor.