Press Release
July 26, 2019

De Lima to Duterte: Jail, not free, plunderers

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has challenged Mr. Duterte to prove that his administration is truly sincere in fighting corruption by prosecuting and jailing corrupt individuals instead of freeing them.

De Lima made the challenge after Duterte, during his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22, bragged that there is no "sacred cows" in his administration regardless of his relationship, friendship or alliance with them.

"Corruption does not stop by simply telling the plunderers to stop. Neither it is stopped by reinstating the death penalty. It is stopped by prosecuting and jailing thieves in government, instead of freeing them," she said.

De Lima made the statement in her Commentary on Mr. Duterte's Midterm State of the Nation Address (SONA) entitled "No Fight Left Inside Duterte."

Last July 22, Mr. Duterte boasted during his 4th SONA attended by members of Congress and his Cabinet that he has fired or caused the resignation of 100 officials and appointees regardless of his relationship, friendship and alliance with them.

He also vowed that he will not treat corrupt officials with kid gloves or that he will not allow any sacred cows in his administration.

The lady Senator from Bicol, however, pointed out that Mr. Duterte's hardline anti-corruption rhetorics betrays his actions when he allowed to free and regain political power for known plunderers during his watch.

"One does not achieve it by freeing and politically rehabilitating plunderers like the Arroyos and the Marcoses. One does not fight corruption by whining, complaining, and crying out to the plunderers to stop their corruption," she said.

According to her, Mr. Duterte must realize that being President alone is not enough to stop corruption, adding that an anti-corruption program needs a comprehensive institutionalized approach.

De Lima, whose stint as justice secretary was best remembered for her anti-corruption efforts, pointed out that Duterte has undermined these institutions one by one, eradicating the system of checks and balance and the rule of law.

She also slammed Mr. Duterte's recycling of officials involved in corruption, most notably former Customs Commissioners Nicanor Faeldon and Isidro Lapena, who were merely assigned to other positions despite their involvement in the issue of drug smuggling.

"Even if Duterte forces a hundred public officials to resign, if he does not prosecute and jail a single one, it will not stop corruption. Neither does sending 60 corrupt Customs officials to Congress," she said.

In the 18th Congress, De Lima has filed measures aimed at combating corruption.

Among them include Senate Bill No. 186, or the Comprehensive Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net (SALN) Worth Act of 2019, which seeks to address the loopholes in the filing of SALN to make it more effective in eradicating corruption and promoting transparency in the government service.

She also filed Senate Bill No. 374 seeking to exempt government officials and employees from the coverage of the Bank Secrecy Law.

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