MANILA, Philippines – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte continued his word war with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whom he accused of "fattening" jailbirds and failing to keep them from making, and even dealing, drugs behind bars.
The tough-taking mayor said this – and more – in his speech at the 17th founding anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption at Camp Aguinaldo on Friday, July 3. (READ: Duterte on how to fight crime: It has to be 'bloody')
Duterte insisted that his iron-fisted ways have transformed Davao city into the 5th safest city in the world, but his leadership style is criticized by human rights advocates including De Lima, who served as Commission on Human Rights chairman in the previous administration.
Duterte took to task De Lima for reportedly describing him as "undemocratic" in a media interview.
Addressing De Lima, Duterte said at the VACC event: “Undemocratic ako? Tingnan mo ginagawa mo. Here are guys who are supposed to be in prison, paying retribution for their sins against humanity, pinapataba mo, nagnenegosyo pa."
(I'm undemocratic? Look at what you're doing. Here are guys who are supposed to be in prison, paying retribution for their sins against humanity, but instead you are fattening them, and they even do business.)
He said convicted criminals were found to manufacture methampethamine within their cells and were given access to female companions. (READ: 'VIP treatment' for drug lords discovered in surprise Bilibid inspection)
The New Bilibid Prison is maintained by the Bureau of Corrections under the supervision of the Department of Justice. The BuCor leadership has undergone changes since the scandal.
Duterte also took exception to De Lima's claim that she had something on him. The DOJ chief had earlier said that the government had a witness who could testify that Duterte ordered the killings of the Davao Death Squad, a loose group of vigilantes in the city that targets known criminals. (READ: Duterte and Davao Death Squad: 'Defending the indefensible')
“Etong si De Lima, she treats these reports, na meron daw tao doon na nakapagsabi na ako daw nag-uutos. Sabi nya sa Headstart, she has something on me. Bakit, akala niya wala ako? Aba, mas grabe itong akin, iiyak siya dito. Be very careful, you know, weather-weather ang buhay,” Duterte said.
(De Lima said there's someone who can testify that I was the one giving orders. She said in Headstart that she has something on me. Why, does she think I don't have anything on her? I have something better; it will make her cry. Be very careful, you know, life can be unpredictable.)
'Kiss of death'
Though he is good friends with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, Duterte does not believe that the ruling Liberal Party has what it takes to deliver the winning numbers in the 2016 polls.
Duterte was responding to the reported suggestion of De Lima that he wanted to be the running mate of Roxas, the presumptive LP standard-bearer.
“Kung kayo (LP) mag-endorse, patay tayong lahat. Sabihin ko kay De Lima, i-endorse nila, talo. Paano? That would be a kiss of death, I think….Ewan ko lang kung ilan makuha nila,” Durterte said.
(If you [LP] will be the one to endorse, that would be the end of us. I will tell De Lima, whoever they endorse will lose. That would be the kiss of death, I think...I don't know how many [votes] they can get.)
The recent meeting of Roxas and Duterte in Davao City again sparked talks that they may become a tandem in 2016. Roxas snuffed out speculations, saying it was just a regular meeting between "two good friends." (READ: Roxas, Duterte chat abou golf, federalism, 'other topics')
Duterte cited a recent statement of De Lima that she could not imagine the Davao mayor as Roxas' running mate.
To this, Duterte said, “Who ever told you that I’m interested to run under Roxas? Sabi ko, 'Ha? Bakit?' Hindi naman ako Liberal eh. (I said, 'What? Why?' I am not even a Liberal.)
Duterte, has publicly denied plans to seek higher office but has been seen going around the country for "listening tours" – forums on federalism, which he advocates, and his vision for the country.
De Lima is among those reportedly being eyed as an administration senatorial candidate. – Rappler.com