Palace hits De Lima for being "callous" for remarks over Jolo cathedral blasts
Malacañang slammed on Tuesday detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima for being "callous" after she questioned how government intelligence funds are being spent following the deadly bombings in a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, said De Lima is talking nonsense, adding that her confinement "has dulled her senses."
"Instead of giving words of support to the ground forces in Mindanao and consoling the bereaved loved ones of those who perished in the bombing incident, which is the least she could have done, she opted to be indifferent if not callous to the military men who were killed in the line of duty as well as to the bravery of our soldiers who are ferociously hunting the terrorists and risking their lives in pursuing the barbaric criminals to bring them to justice," he said.
At least 22 people, including soldiers, died and over a hundred others were injured in the twin blasts in Jolo cathedral during a mass on January 27.
De Lima, in a statement on Monday, called for an independent probe into the bombings in Jolo cathedral.
She said it was the height of irony that the bombings happened at the time when Mindanao has been under martial law, the Bangsamoro Organic Law was under plebiscite, and the cathedral in Jolo "has been walled by security forces for several months prior to the bombing."
"There is something more to this than meets the eye as bereaved families raise doubts on the suicide bomber theory of the government and no less than the City Mayor of Jolo is calling for an independent investigation for fear of cover-up and whitewash. They are from the area and understand the place; their doubts must be valid," said De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
If these were terrorists who did the bombings, she said this only proves that Duterte could not protect the people against terrorists and neither could he scare them away to curb their agenda.
"The first was Marawi, now Jolo and Zamboanga. His (Duterte's) threats are nothing but empty words to real terrorists. To put it bluntly, he is mighty in words, but inept in action. What are our intelligence assets doing, or where are the funds to run the intelligence gathering?" De Lima said.
But Panelo said the fact that soldiers were not able to detect the terrorists who disguised themselves as churchgoers was "no reason for this criminally accused legislator to be so insensitive as to blame them for the tragedy."
Panelo said De Lima seemed to forget Duterte is the same president who crushed the dreaded and ruthless ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and their local counterparts in the Marawi siege.
This is also the same president who has declared a war on drugs, criminality and corruption and gained headway in all those fronts by his swift action and enforcement of the law, without fear or favor, he said.
"Had not the President declared martial law in battling the enemies of the state, the entire Mindanao would have have been in chaos with bombings and killings a daily occurrence," Panelo explained.
"Having lost a venue in the halls of Congress for her attacks on the President, and having become an irrelevant political entity, she tries to re-enter the public’s consciousness by dishing out reckless and offensive rants against the President reducing herself into a pathetic figure and a pitiful caricature," said Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel.
He advised De Lima to better indulge herself in meditation and prayers "so the goodness in her heart comes out in full bloom instead of seeing only the dark side in her dungeon." Celerina Monte/DMS