SOME 2,000 threatening messages and calls were made to Senator Leila de Lima’s mobile phone on Tuesday after her number was revealed during a public broadcast of the ongoing Senate hearing.
Local news reports said De Lima, who was the day earlier ousted from the Senate’s justice committee, railed against her comrades in the House for allowing public exposure of her private details.
“I have been bombarded by text messages, numbering almost 2000, and phone calls from unknown persons, threatening me, harassing me, calling me the vilest of names,” she was quoted saying in GMA Network.
“[I have] No adequate words to express my utter dismay about the lack of foresight and/or utter lack of sheer humanity displayed today during what I can only describe as a blatant exercise in harassment and persecution that is the so-called House of Representatives ‘inquiry’.
“They have basically destroyed my right to privacy and security in my communications and in my abode. I am now literally a persecuted person displaced from my home. Worse, they have turned people into weapons of destruction,” the furious De Lima added.
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) September 20, 2016
The House is currently investigating the spate of extrajudicial killings that took place in the months since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
De Lima, a fierce critic of the Duterte administration who has been pushing hard for accountability in the president’s war on drugs, was the chairman of the justice committee that had been leading the probe.
On Monday, however, a vote taken by senators forced her and eight members of the committee to vacate their posts. The vote was called after De Lima was accused of bias in her presentation of a witness last week who accused Duterte of masterminding some 1,000 murders in Davao City during his time as mayor.
De Lima is also facing accusations of complicity in the drug trade behind the walls of the notorious New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.
According to Rappler, during Tuesday’s hearing, witnesses – convicts and inmates – alleged that De Lima had used a mobile number issued by the justice department to communicate with drug criminals inside the prison.
GMA Network’s report said convict Herbet Colangco was asked during the inquiry for the cellphone number that he had called in 2014 to discuss payoffs with De Lima. Colangco reportedly gave the number and several members of the House confirmed that it was De Lima’s.
The hearing was aired both on national television and streamed on numerous news sites.
“This is the country that we live in today. We shame ourselves before our countrymen and the world that we dare compare ourselves to Singapore in terms of making people feel safe.
“What the people have to realize is that this is not just an offense against me, but against everyone,” De Lima was quoted saying.
The senator also lamented that she was being made an example of what would happen to those who dared to criticize the government, adding that after this episode, not many would dare speak out.
“The real victim here is the people, the oppressed. God save us all,” she said.