• A former colleague of De Lima in the Liberal Party and now a member of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban party urges Sen. Leila de Lima to defend herself
  • He challenges the lady senator to show up or shut up
  • The congressman said the House committee had summoned witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of the illegal activities in the NBP

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali and chair of the House committee investigating Senator Leila de Lima’s alleged ties to drug lords at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) has challenged the former justice secretary to defend herself by appearing at the next hearing.

A former colleague of De Lima in the Liberal Party and now a member of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban party, Umali said the lady senator should stop speaking ill of the House inquiry and accept its invitation to testify, an article written by DJ Yap on Philippine Daily Inquirer stated.

Known as a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, De Lima has refused to appear at the House inquiry as she questioned the credibility of its witnesses to include alleged drug lords and convicted kidnappers and murderers.

“If she really wants to clear her name and help [the] government stop the proliferation of illegal drugs not just in New Bilibid Prison but also in the entire country, then she may wish to appear in our next hearing instead of casting aspersions on the integrity of our probe through [the] media,” Umali was quoted saying; further disclosing that the House committee had summoned witnesses who have firsthand knowledge of the illegal activities in the national prison.

As such, Umali noted that nobody else but the convicts, including high-profile inmate Herbert Colanggo, would have knowledge of the alleged drug operation in the maximum security compound of the prison.

The congressman, who presided over the two-day inquiry that took place last week, stressed several witnesses accusing De Lima of coddling drug lords still operating while serving their sentences at NBP.

Aside from this, De Lima was also accused of collecting payoffs from them and linking her to Jaybee Sebastian; an alleged drug kingpin.