SENATOR Leila de Lima was evicted   chair of the Senate  committee on justice and  was immediately replaced by  Senator  Richard Gordon, The Inquirer reports today (September 19).

Gordon has earlier called for the suspension of the ‘writ of habeas corpus’.

According to the report, it was Senator Manny Pacquiao, who made a motion on the  floor  to declare vacant the chairmanship as well as the membership of   the committee, which is investigating the   alleged extrajudicial killings in the country since the  Duterte administration  took over .

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon objected  to the motion, which prompted to the  suspension of the session and the  holding of a senators’ caucus.

When the session  resumed, the chamber immediately put to a vote  the motion.  Drilon maintained his   objection, seconded by   neophyte Senator   Risa Hontiveros.

“We  register our objection. We believe there’s no basis for the motion,”  Drilon said.

Hontiveros said: “On behalf of Akbayan party, I respectfully register my objection.”

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III then  decided to divide the chamber and made the roll call vote.

Sixteen  senators voted in favor of Pacquiao’s   motion, four were against it  while two abstained.

The four  who voted against the motion were Drilon, Hontiveros and Senators Bam Aquino  and  Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan.
Drilon, Aquino and Pangilinan are members of  the Liberal Party, while  Hontiveros  belongs to the Akbayan partylist group but she ran under the LP-led slate during the last May 2016 elections.

During the voting, Senate Minority Leader   Ralph Recto manifested that the minority  bloc would not take part in the  voting, saying the issue   should be resolved  among the majority group.

After the voting,  Senate Majority Leader  Vicente “Tito” Sotto III immediately  moved to elect “reluctant”     Gordon  as new head  of the committee and Senator Panfilo Lacson as vice chairman.

Senators Pacquiao,  Pangilinan, de Lima, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Grace Poe,  Alan Cayetano were also elected members of the committee.

de Lima accuses Duterte

In an update The Inquirer reported that Senator de Lima immediately accused President Rodrigo Duterte of masterminding her ouster on Monday as chair of the Senate committee on justice investigating the alleged extrajudicial killings under the current administration.

“Majority po ang nag-oust sa akin bilang chair ng committee on justice. Wala po akong duda na mayroong kinalaman dyan ang ating Pangulo,” De Lima said in a television interview shortly after she was removed as head of the committee.

“Bagamat nirerespeto ko po ang aking mga kasamahan, siguro po pwede kong masabi na naiitindihan ko ang ginawa nila pero uulitin ko po yun, imposible po walang kinalaman dito ang ating Pangulo,” she added

De Lima suspected that the President got angrier with her after she presented during last week’s hearing a witness, Edgar Matobato, who had accused Duterte of ordering the killings of enemies and criminals in Davao City when he was still the mayor.

“Syempre tumindi lalo ang galit nya (Duterte). Talaga namang galit sa akin di ba? I mean, he was not concealing yung galit nya sa akin when I started nga this inquiry na binastos talaga ako ng husto, may mga (binato) sa akin na below the belt, may mga statement like you’re finished,” she said.

“So itong mga ginagawa sa akin, mukhang mga finishing touches yun para sa kanya,” the senator added.

De Lima admitted that she was badly hurt that she was ousted chairman although she would continue as a member of the committee.

“Talaga naman syempre hindi ko maitatanggi na sobrang masakit ang nararamdaman ko,” she said.

While she said she understands that the House of Representatives would investigate her on her alleged drug links, De Lima said she was expecting that her colleagues in the Senate, if they could not come to her defense, would not add to the supposed pressure against her.