MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila De Lima on Monday walked out of the Senate hall while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano was delivering his privilege speech, criticizing her for lack of objectivity in the justice committee’s probe.
De Lima, chair of the Senate justice panel, presented the confessed hit man at the last hearing into the rising number of drug-related killings. The witness claimed President Rodrigo Duterte ordered killings of suspected criminals in Davao City as mayor.
Speaking to reporters, De Lima explained her move to go out of the hall in the middle of Cayetano’s address.
“I cannot stand it (Cayetano’s speech) because I’m also gonna deliver my privilege speech tomorrow and I cannot confront him (Cayetano) right now,” De Lima said in a televised ambush interview.
In his speech, Cayetano questioned the credibility of De Lima’s witness, Edgar Matobato, for being part of a political ploy against Duterte.
Cayetano said De Lima is using the Senate committee to pursue her investigation into extrajudicial killings in Davao City which started when she was still a chair of the Commission on Human Rights.
Claiming he does not mean to offend De Lima, Cayetano said he accepts De Lima’s decision to walk out.
“Lahat naman tayo dito tao lang e, so she didn’t want to listen and I didnt mean to offend but there’s no other way I could say it. How can I? I cannot sugarcoat,” Cayetano said.
“‘Yun ang pananaw ko,for me those are the facts I was quoting but option naman parati ng kahit sinong senador na makinig or dun siya sa kwarto niya makinig in the same manner na ‘di ako sumama sa Committee on rules para makapag-plano sila,” he added.
After Cayetano’s speech, Sen. Manny Pacquiao asked the Senate leadership to declare the position of De Lima at the Senate committee on justice vacant. The move was not immediately acted on by the Senate.