Robredo, LP back De Lima: Personal attacks don't help

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's latest tirade against Senator Leila de Lima, saying that personal attacks won't do the country any good.

"Hindi nakakatulong ang personalan (Personal attacks don''t help)," Robredo, De Lima's party mate in the Liberal Party (LP), said in a statement released Thursday, August 18.

"If we level down the discourse to personal attacks, we might bring out the worst in people," Robredo added in Filipino.

On Wednesday, Duterte publicly accused De Lima of being an "immoral woman" having an affair with her "driver and lover" who allegedly received drug money. It's the culmination of a word war that started last year when Duterte fumed over De Lima's statements about his alleged links to death squads in Davao, where he had served as mayor.

Duterte's harsh words came ahead of the Senate inquiry into the spate of extrajudicial killings that De Lima initiated. She also heads the committee spearheading the probe, the Senate committee on justice.

De Lima on Thursday hit back, saying Duterte's accusations showed he was bent on silencing those opposed to him – a clear indication, she said, of abuse of power.

"This is no less than abuse and misuse of executive power. I don't think the Constitution has ever contemplated such abuse of power on such scale," De Lima said. (READ: FULL STATEMENT: De Lima responds to Duterte's attack)

Stick to issues

Robredo said public discussions by government officials should be confined to issues. (READ: De Lima to Duterte: Have decency to spare my friends, family)

"Puwede naman na nag-disagree tayo on issues pero sa diskusyon whether nag-agree tayo or disagree kailangan pakinggan natin ang bawat isa, kailangan kahit iba sa paniniwala natin, magrespetuhan," said the Vice President.

(We can disagree on issues but whether we agree or disagree, we need to listen to each other. Even if we have different views, we need to respect each other.)

It's the responsibility of public officials to serve as an example to Filipinos, Robredo said. "Dapat tayo, kaming lahat, si Presidente, si Senator Leila, ang lahat ng government officials kailangan maging inspiring kami."

(All of us, the President, Senator Leila and other government officials, we need to be inspiring.)

"Let us bring the discussion to the issue," she said in Filipino.

‘Uphold Senate independence’

The Liberal Party, meanwhile, urged Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to "uphold the independence" of the Senate following the attack against their party member. 

"Senator Leila de Lima is doing her job as a senator of the Republic. She deserves support, not condemnation; respect, and not gutter language; she and our people deserve the facts, not innuendo," the LP said in a statement.

It expressed dismay over the allegations against De Lima, which the LP said "maligned her reputation and public service."

"To this end we call on the Senate President to uphold the independence of the Senate whose membership must always be vigorously supported as they fulfill the people's mandate to make inquiries in aid of legislation," the LP said. (READ: Sotto: No need for Senate to intervene in Duterte-De Lima spat– Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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