Topacio, who represents VACC in its drug trafficking complaint against De Lima, made an example of the senator in saying that many convicts were “beyond rehabilitation,” making capital punishment necessary.
“For instance, many drug traders, although they are behind bars, have shown that they are still capable in dealing with drugs, which is why the VACC, the NBI, and other agencies have filed cases for drug trafficking against Sen. De Lima and other persons,” Topacio told the Senate committee on justice and human rights which heard debates about the death penalty.
“Now, whether these charges are proven true or not, we do not know. But the fact remains that these pushers have admitted before a congressional inquiry that they still deal in drugs,” he said.
This prompted a visibly incensed De Lima to stand up to chastise Topacio for his statement.
“Atty. Topacio here, while not in very expressed terms, just called me a drug trafficker. I want him to take that back,” De Lima said.
Topacio said that he merely made reference to “allegations” hounding the senator.
“In fact, the transcript of the records would bear me out when I say that whether those charges would be proven or not, we do not know. These are allegations, your honor,” he said, who appeared surprised at De Lima’s outburst.
But De Lima repeated her denial of the allegations first aired against her by President Duterte and other administration officials.
“Yes, but of all these people, why single out only Sen. Leila de Lima? I’m not a drug trafficker!” she yelled. “Why don’t you name the real drug traffickers? I am the only one you are suing!”
Several high-profile convicts have testified at the House of Representatives that De Lima sought money from the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons to fund her senatorial bid.
The lawmaker protested the claims and said they were part of efforts to destroy her for questioning Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. The police recently halted the program after admitting it was used by corrupt officers as a cover for their illegal activities.
De Lima is facing a host of criminal and administrative complaints before the Department of Justice, the Supreme Court and the Senate committee on ethics and privileges.
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