Senator Leila de Lima should explain why drug problems “flourished” during her time as justice secretary, Senator Grace Poe said on Tuesday.
Poe noted that the illegal drugs proliferated not only in the New Bilibid Prisons but in other parts of the country while De Lima headed the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“I think it’s just right that she accounts for this and answers the allegations against her,” she said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel’s morning show, Headstart.
Poe said it would be difficult to brush off the allegations when there were “collaborating testimonies” about De Lima’s supposed involvement in the illicit drug trade.
At least two witnesses — suspected drug lord, Kerwin Espinosa, and De Lima’s former driver and partner, Ronnie Dayan — have testified in a Senate probe and claimed giving her drug money for her campaign kitty.
“It’s quite tough for her to be able to take a case against some of the allegations but let’s give her a chance. I don’t want to pass judgment right away,” Poe said.
“But as I said, it was during her time when she was DOJ secretary that a lot of these drug problems actually flourished so at least for that particular issue she has to be able to explain why that was so,” she said.
Poe and De Lima are part of the majority in the Senate but the former voted to oust the latter as chair of the Senate committee on justice that was investigating alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.
Senator Richard Gordon took over De Lima’s position at the committee, which later came up with a report that there was no proof of state-sponsored killings in the country.
Poe, who is part of the committee, did not sign the report.
Poe is also a member of the Senate ethics committee that will deliberate on the complaint filed against De Lima for allegedly stopping Dayan from attending the investigation of the House of Representatives on the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP.
She promised to be “very fair” in hearing the complaint against De Lima.
Asked if she was ready to admonish a colleague, Poe said, “You know that would be one of the hardest things to do but I think, ultimately, you’re accountable to the people that put you in office.”
“I think that we all have to be able to be accountable to the public,” she added.
“But I will be very fair. (I will) look at the merits of the case,” Poe stressed. CBB/rga