Senators sack justice panel chair De Lima

MANILA (Updated) -- The Senate has removed the chairman of the committee on justice and human rights, Senator Leila de Lima.

De Lima was removed on Monday, September 19, after 16 senators supported the motion of Senator Manny Pacquiao to declare the chairmanship and membership of the justice panel vacant.

De Lima was replaced by Senator Richard Gordon as the new chairman of the committee. Gordon was the one who earlier proposed to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in one of his privilege speeches.

De Lima, in an interview, blamed President Rodrigo Duterte for her ouster as justice panel chair.

The senator said it was already an open secret that Duterte will do everything to make sure that she will be pinned down.

"Simula pa lamang po ng nag move si Senator Frank Drilon na I suspend ay alam ko na ang kanilang balakin na alisin ako sa committee chairmanship. Hindi na po ako nagulat man lamang. Tinanong pa nila ako kung meron akong pakiusap. Sinabi ko na walang akong dapat ipakiusap," de Lima said.

"Number games po ang Kongreso. Kasama po sa demokrasya ang ganitong sistema at tanggap po natin na ganoon po talaga ang proseso," she added.

But the President denied that he had directed his allies at the Senate to oust de Lima, his staunch critic, from the committee.

“I do not intervene into matters not within my (ambit), not part of my territory,” the President said at the sidelines of his meeting with the victims of Davao bombing at Matina Enclaves, Davao City.

In a statement, Gordon said the Senate is totally polarized and it was placed in a very difficult situation after another senator (obviously referring to de Lima) was displaced from the said committee.

"Nobody is happy. Many things is coming out but I am giving my 100 percent in handling this committee. Certainly the pressure is so big but I will make sure that the necessary consultation will be consider," Gordon said.

Meanwhile, the new composition of Senate committee on justice will also be the one to decide on whether or not Edgar Matobato will have the protective custody of the Senate.

Gordon said the committee composed of new members will have to decide on the matter based on the consensus of the new group.

The committee is investigating the rising extrajudicial killings in the country. (With Ruth Abbey Gita/Sunnex)
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