The Senate on Monday voted to oust Senator Leila de Lima from the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.
Sixteen senators voted to approve Senator Manny Pacquiao’s motion for the Senate to declare the committee chairmanship and membership vacant.
Four voted against and two abstained.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto moved to nominate Senator Richard Gordon as the new chairman of the committee, which the latter accepted.
With no opposition, Gordon was declared as the new chairperson of the panel.
Gordon, in accepting the chairmanship, promised an “objective” hand at the head of the committee.
The motion to declare De Lima’s panel vacant was discussed by the senators in a one-hour caucus following Pacquiao’s motion.
After the caucus, the motion was taken up again, and was opposed by De Lima’s allies, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“We believe there is no basis for the motion,” Drilon said.
Pacquiao made the motion to declare De Lima’s vacant after Senator Alan Peter Cayetano accused De Lima of being biased against President Rodrigo Duterte.
Pacquiao and Cayetano are both close allies of Duterte.
The committee on justice is holding a probe on alleged extrajudicial killings and summary executions amid the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Sotto said the probe on the killings attributed to Duterte’s war on drugs will continue.
De Lima will remain a member of the committee, along with Pacquiao, Cayetano, Pangilinan, and Senators Miguel Zubiri and Grace Poe.
‘Duterte behind my ouster’
In an interview on “24 Oras” moments after her ouster, De Lima said there was no doubt that Duterte was involved.
“Wala po akong duda na may kinalaman diyan ang ating Pangulo,” she said. “Imposible po walang kinalaman dito ang ating Pangulo.”
De Lima said she saw the writing on the wall that she will be ousted from the committee while listening to Senator Alan Peter Cayetano’s privilege speech slamming her for her criticisms of Duterte.
“Pinag-usapan na nila ito,” she said. “Plinano na nila ito. It was a done deal.”
De Lima said she figured that Duterte was angry at the testimony of Edgar Matoboto, the self-confessed hitman who accused the president of ordering murders and bombings when Duterte served as mayor of Davao City. De Lima noted that her ouster was the president’s way of getting back even as he has not addressed the issue publicly. —JST/NB, GMA News