Even though she was not named directly, a teary-eyed Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte for supposedly resorting to "foul character assassination" in his speech before police officers in Camp Crame.
Speaking to reporters during a Senate session break, De Lima found Duterte's remarks during the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s 115th service anniversary in Camp Crame as "surprising."
"Ang first reaction ko lang, ayaw ko nang patulan yan. I don't want to dignify that. It's so foul. It's character assassination," she said.
During his speech at the PNP, Duterte said a senator complaining of the administration's anti-drug campaign is "politicking" and "posturing" when she herself is "immoral" by being the lover of her driver.
"Here is an immoral woman ... insofar as the wife of the driver is concerned, it's adultery. Here is a woman who funded the house of her lover, and yet we do not say any complaint about it," Duterte said without naming who the senator is.
The President also said that the senator once initiated an investigation into his link with the so-called Davao Death Squad in Davao City.
It was during De Lima's time as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights that an investigation on then-Mayor Duterte's supposed links to the DDS was launched.
It is also De Lima who filed a resolution calling for an investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration. The hearings have been scheduled on Aug. 22 and 23.
At the time, whistleblower Sandra Cam submitted an affidavit linking De Lima to her married driver and to fugitve Cesar Mancao.
"I psyched myself before I appeared today na hindi ko papatulan kapag medyo foul na," De Lima told reporters after the Commission on Appointments hearing two years ago. "'Yung insisting na personal issues, iyon ang hindi ko pwedeng patulan."
"Pareho po naman kaming propesyonal ng pangulo. Pareho kaming public servants so sana hindi na ho siya nagre-resort sa ganyan na foul means. To me that's very foul," she said.
De Lima then appealed to the President to first "double check" information that he gets before making such accusations.
Despite Duterte's statement, De Lima said, "Hindi po [ako] matitinag," referring to her efforts to investigate the spate of drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.
De Lima said Duterte's remark came at a "very bad timing."
"I don't know kung ano po agenda nila that they are resorting to character assassination. That is a very clear case of character assassination," she said.