SENATOR Leila de Lima was evicted chair of the Senate committee on justice and was immediately replaced by Senator Richard Gordon, The Inquirer reports today (September 19).
Gordon has earlier called for the suspension of the ‘writ of habeas corpus’.
According to the report, it was Senator Manny Pacquiao, who made a motion on the floor to declare vacant the chairmanship as well as the membership of the committee, which is investigating the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country since the Duterte administration took over .
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon objected to the motion, which prompted to the suspension of the session and the holding of a senators’ caucus.
When the session resumed, the chamber immediately put to a vote the motion. Drilon maintained his objection, seconded by neophyte Senator Risa Hontiveros.
“We register our objection. We believe there’s no basis for the motion,” Drilon said.
Hontiveros said: “On behalf of Akbayan party, I respectfully register my objection.”
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III then decided to divide the chamber and made the roll call vote.
Sixteen senators voted in favor of Pacquiao’s motion, four were against it while two abstained.
The four who voted against the motion were Drilon, Hontiveros and Senators Bam Aquino and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
Drilon, Aquino and Pangilinan are members of the Liberal Party, while Hontiveros belongs to the Akbayan partylist group but she ran under the LP-led slate during the last May 2016 elections.
During the voting, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto manifested that the minority bloc would not take part in the voting, saying the issue should be resolved among the majority group.
After the voting, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III immediately moved to elect “reluctant” Gordon as new head of the committee and Senator Panfilo Lacson as vice chairman.
Senators Pacquiao, Pangilinan, de Lima, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Grace Poe, Alan Cayetano were also elected members of the committee.
de Lima accuses Duterte
In an update The Inquirer reported that Senator de Lima immediately accused President Rodrigo Duterte of masterminding her ouster on Monday as chair of the Senate committee on justice investigating the alleged extrajudicial killings under the current administration.
“Majority po ang nag-oust sa akin bilang chair ng committee on justice. Wala po akong duda na mayroong kinalaman dyan ang ating Pangulo,” De Lima said in a television interview shortly after she was removed as head of the committee.
“Bagamat nirerespeto ko po ang aking mga kasamahan, siguro po pwede kong masabi na naiitindihan ko ang ginawa nila pero uulitin ko po yun, imposible po walang kinalaman dito ang ating Pangulo,” she added
De Lima suspected that the President got angrier with her after she presented during last week’s hearing a witness, Edgar Matobato, who had accused Duterte of ordering the killings of enemies and criminals in Davao City when he was still the mayor.
“Syempre tumindi lalo ang galit nya (Duterte). Talaga namang galit sa akin di ba? I mean, he was not concealing yung galit nya sa akin when I started nga this inquiry na binastos talaga ako ng husto, may mga (binato) sa akin na below the belt, may mga statement like you’re finished,” she said.
“So itong mga ginagawa sa akin, mukhang mga finishing touches yun para sa kanya,” the senator added.
De Lima admitted that she was badly hurt that she was ousted chairman although she would continue as a member of the committee.
“Talaga naman syempre hindi ko maitatanggi na sobrang masakit ang nararamdaman ko,” she said.
While she said she understands that the House of Representatives would investigate her on her alleged drug links, De Lima said she was expecting that her colleagues in the Senate, if they could not come to her defense, would not add to the supposed pressure against her.