President Duterte is a “sociopathic serial killer” who should be forced out of office, Leila de Lima said today (Tuesday, February 21) — as she herself faces arrest on drug charges.
De Lima — the president’s fiercest critic in the senate — invoked the ‘People Power’ revolution that toppled Ferdinand Marcos in some of her strongest comments yet against Duterte and his drug war.
“There is no more doubt that our president is a murderer and sociopathic serial killer,” she told reporters, as she called on cabinet to declare him unfit to lead, and urged the people to voice opposition to his rule.
De Lima said the constitution allowed for a majority in his cabinet to force him to step down by ruling that he was mentally incapacitated, and urged it to do so.
If the cabinet failed to do so, De Lima invoked the mass uprising that ended the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
“Now the time has come again for us to be brave and stand up to another criminal dictator and his evil regime,” De Lima said.
In the past, the senator has claimed that the president’s use of the pain-killing drug Fentanyl had driven him to “madness”. (Read more here.)
“Duterte should stop taking Fentanyl because obviously it has already driven him to madness and to fits of paranoia where everyone he sees is either a drug addict or a drug lord,” she said.
“Mr President, stop abusing drugs so for even one single second you can experience a lucid interval and discover how crazy this drug war witch-hunting has become.
“At least I, whom he recklessly and wrongly accuses as a narco-politician, haven’t taken a single addictive drug in my life, while he who runs amok and froths in the mouth like a rabid animal has the temerity to make up a list, when he should be on the top of that list.”
The government last week charged De Lima, a former national human rights commissioner, with being at the centre a drug trafficking ring while serving as justice secretary in the previous administration.
De Lima, her supporters and international human rights groups claim the charges against her are manufactured to silence her and serve as a warning to other critics.
She could be detained anytime, most probably in police headquarters at Camp Crame, although the courts hearing the cases still need to issue an arrest warrant.
When asked about De Lima’s comments, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella described them as “colourful language” and added that the president would happily allow public demonstrations against him.
Senator de Lima was speaking in the light of claims made by retired policeman Arthur Lascañas yesterday that he was the head of a death squad that acted on Mr Duterte’s orders while he was mayor of Davao. (Read our report here.)
In his testimony, he claimed that he murdered two of his own brothers on Mr Duterte’s orders. He also alleged that he had been paid cash to fire bomb a number of mosques.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Lascañas described how the Davao Death Squad had originally been formed to go after small-time drug dealers and petty criminals but later evolved into a force to eliminate Mr Duterte’s political opponents.
Among these, he alleged, was Jun Pala, a popular radio commentator and outspoken critic of the mayor who was gunned down in 2003.
The claims echo statements by self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who has been in hiding since he linked the president to the killings last year. (Read our report here.)
Since his election, the president has on several occasions apparently admitted killing people personally, saying he would cruise around on his motorbike “looking for trouble” and even that he once threw somebody from a helicopter. (Read more here and here.) However, since making these statements, the president has claimed he was “only joking”.