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De Lima is in a bind and has a lot of explaining to do

04:38 AM September 19, 2016

A GALLIMAUFRY of opinions has been swirling around the issues raised by President  Duterte against Sen. Leila de Lima.  It all started with innuendos about De Lima’s alleged dalliance with her driver, which led to accusations that he was her trusted bagman in some deadly liaison with  drug lords serving life in the New Bilibid Prison. Some say it was utterly foul of Mr. Duterte to indulge in muckraking about the personal life of the senator; such “character assassination” was unacceptable; everyone should just stick to the real issue, which is whether or not the senator was a coddler of drug lords.

In her own “press conference” last Aug. 18, De Lima delivered a monologue where she vented her hurt at the personal attack not only against her but practically against all women in the country. Attacks like those without proof may be a boost to a man’s ego and “bragging rights,” but they ruin beyond repair the good name and reputation of any woman. The press people in attendance wished to dig deeper, but the senator refused to oblige and left in a huff.

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That was a missed opportunity for De Lima to clear the air. Relevant or not, and if totally untrue, she should have denied any such links flat out.  Why she chose to tergiversate and leave the question hanging is hard to comprehend. Now, a picture of a white-painted house said to belong to her driver has appeared on the front page of the Aug. 19 Inquirer. It’s actually his second house, the other being orange-painted (Inquirer, Page A17) where his children live apart from him.

The question that begs to be answered is, how could a driver’s salary afford even such modest luxuries? We recall Winnie Monsod interviewing then senatorial candidate De Lima on TV and asking her pointblank about any romance with her driver. With her refusal to “dignify that issue,” the nasty rumor persisted. It seems Mr. Duterte never bought that excuse.

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To many, this matter cannot be sneezed at as being too personal. If the “white house” does not belong to her driver either under the latter’s name or a dummy’s, then De Lima should be home free. But it is quite unthinkable that the Inquirer would have captioned that picture “Driver’s house” (without the question mark) if it had no documentary proof of its ownership. Otherwise, it may add fillip to the perception that the chump was really so close to her—cheek by jowl, as it were—as to be entrusted with the delicate task of handling filthy lucre. And, alack and alas, that may also explain her supposed generosity to him.

Having voted for her, we could only wish the feisty senator would prove her detractors wrong.

—STEPHEN L. MONSANTO,
Monsanto Law Office, Loyola Heights, Quezon City,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Illegal drugs, New Bilibid Prison, opinion, President Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Leila de Lima
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