Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday dared President Rodrigo Duterte to have her arrested immediately amid accusations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade.
“Tama na. Hulihin ninyo na ako ngayon. ‘Yun naman talaga gusto niyo. Ikulong ninyo na ako ngayon. I’m here. Do what you want to me, Mr. President. I will wait for you,” De Lima said.
The embattled senator said she will not run away from the allegations against her, no matter how concocted these are, as she reiterated her innocence.
“What am I supposed to do now? Tell me now. I’m not going to leave this country and escape anything because there is nothing to escape from,” De Lima said.
“I want to fight here in the country. Hindi po ako duwag dahil wala akong kasalanan. ‘Yung mga nagtatago lamang, at tsaka 'yung mga duwag ang umaatras. Hindi si Leila de Lima. Hindi ako pinalaki ng tatay ko para maging duwag,” the senator added.
Asked for comment, Duterte on Wednesday said De Lima should take a break.
"With all due respect... I think she is breaking down. I suggest she takes days off. If she keeps on yakking, she will have a nervous breakdown," Duterte said in a press conference before leaving for his official visit in Vietnam.
Duterte had earlier said that De Lima will surely be sent to jail — a statement echoed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II during a separate press conference on Wednesday.
"Kung talagang aamin siya eh talagang makukulong siya," he said.
De Lima turned emotional in a press briefing held at the Senate, saying even her former staff are being harassed by the government in an attempt to testify against her.
“I feel so helpless. I cannot even help them with lawyers,” the senator said.
She said the accusations against her are fueled by the “personal vendetta” of Duterte and the “shady characters” who may have an axe to grind with her.
“This is the worst challenge in its sobrang sheer brazenness. It’s almost surreal, unimaginable, unprecedented na ginagawa ng sitting Pangulo ang ginagawa niya ngayon against a sitting senator because of personal vendetta and whatever motives he has,” De Lima said.
“Tapos ginagamit as pawns, as tools, as instruments mga the likes of Aguirre and all other operators,” she added referring to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
De Lima said the allegations against her is already affecting also her family, and distracting her from her work as a senator.
“I have no option. I’m just here. I’m just trying to do my job even if I’m so distracted,” she said.
“It has taken a toll on my health, on my well being. My family is suffering...No one in this room can imagine itong dinadala ko dito sa loob na hindi ko alam bakit ako, ako at ako,” De Lima said.
The neophyte senator admitted that she wished she hadn’t won in the May elections so as not to be the target of the government.
“Napaginitan ulit ako when I initiated the probe into extrajudicial killings. On the other hand, trabaho ito, mandato ng bayan, may gagawin akong trabaho so ang attitude ko palagi, kung ano 'yung tama, ginagawa ko,” De Lima said.
De Lima initiated the Senate probe on extrajudicial killings and summary executions amid the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
She presented before the Senate inquiry witness Edgar Matobato, a confessed hitman and member of the so-called Davao Death Squad, implicating Duterte in killings in Davao City during his term as mayor. Days later, De Lima was ousted as chair of the Senate justice committee handling the probe.