By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday slammed calls of President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies to expel Senator Antonio Trillanes IV from the Senate saying there was nothing objectionable with the way the former soldier sought members of the First Family to appear before the Senate’s probe into the controversial P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.
De Lima said if a senator is going to be expelled for speaking out against something another member of the upper chamber refuses to act on, she fears for what is going to happen to the Senate under the influence of the Duterte administration.
“If a Senator is going to be expelled for uttering his observations as to the implications of a Senate Committee’s refusal to act – what kind of Senate are we even talking about?” de Lima pointed out in a statement.
“The truth is this: Sen. Trillanes’s expulsion is not about punishing so-called ‘unparliamentary conduct’, but about silencing dissent,” de Lima stressed.
De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center on drug charges which she has vehemently denied.
De Lima was referring to Sen. Richard Gordon who filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes for unparliamentary conduct when the latter branded the Senate blue ribbon committee, which he chairs, as a “komite de abswelto” for refusing to invite Davao city vice mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio to the hearing.
The names of Duterte and Carpio were repeatedly mentioned in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment after customs broker Mark Taguba disclosed the existence of the ‘Davao Group’ meddling in the Bureau of Customs (BOC) operations.
“Ironically, Sen. Gordon himself got it right. What we will have is a mob. Mob rule: where the majority can silence the voice of dissent, the voice of the minority; and, with it, can drive another nail into the coffin of our democracy,” de Lima said.
“The day the Senate expels a Senator for alleged acts that are not only in relation to the discharge of his duty as a member of the Senate, but whose purported gravity, in any case, comes nowhere near the gravity of other acts that have merited lesser penalty, is the day that the Senate becomes a mob,” she stressed.
“That will also be the day when thousands of cases of EJKs would no longer be our biggest concern. Imagine that: rampant, systematic cold-blooded murders being perpetrated against our own people – even victimizing our children – would no longer be the most chilling problem we now face. Because even such heinous crimes pale before the prospect of the murder of our democracy,” she emphasized.
“If thousands of people are dying today, imagine how many more will die without even the semblance of democracy? It might be Kian, Carl, “Kulot” and thousand others yesterday; but it could be any one of you, your children, and your loved ones tomorrow,” she declared.