A senator in the Philippines has said she is "willing to be shot in front of the president" if drug allegations against her can be proven. Leila de Lima has been earmarked by Rodrigo Duterte as the public official he would like to "destroy" after accusing her of accepting drug money to fund her election campaign.
The former justice secretary protested her innocence on Saturday (20 August), telling reporters that evidence Duterte may have linking her to the drug trade is "fake. Bogus. Manufactured. Fabricated. Perjured," CNN Philippines reported. She also warned the former mayor of Davao that he will be "humiliated" if he insists on linking her to drug lords.
"I am willing to resign, I am willing to be shot in front of the president," de Lima said. "I am confident to prove him wrong. I will stand by my innocence, any time now and forever," she added.
On Friday (19 August), de Lima conceded there were "snippets of truth" in the allegations levelled against her, "but the bulk of it are distortions, are exaggerations and lies," she said. De Lima will lead the investigation into the spate of extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte's war on drugs next week. She has previously dismissed accusations of her connections to the drug trade as an "absolute lie".
De Lima also claimed that she is the victim of a witch hunt, saying inmates at New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa were asked to sign statements linking her to the illegal drug trade. "They were trying to access certain convicts through campaign funds [to say that I am a coddler, protector, that I benefit from drug money, that I received help through campaign funds]," she said.
De Lima suggested that the campaign against her is in retaliation to a 2009 probe into Duterte's alleged involvement in the notorious Davao Death Squad. "Why is he so fixated on me? I think he has not yet forgotten and forgiven me when I was CHR [Commission on Human Rights] chairperson and I had investigated the issue on the Davao Death Squad," she asked.
"In open proceedings, I lambasted him, I lectured him on human rights but in fairness to him, he didn't react in a negative way when I did that to him," de Lima added.