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DOJ clears overseas trip of Leila

Sen. Leila de Lima gestures at a Senate hearing on extra-judicial killings in this August 2016 InterAksyon file photo
The online news portal of TV5

(UPDATED - 4:00 p.m.) MANILA - The Department of Justice has allowed Sen. Leila de Lima to travel abroad, saying no formal case has yet been filed against her even though the President and her successor at DOJ have been saying she abetted the drug trade in the national penitentiary during her stint there in the Aquino administration.

"Acting on the Letter of Sen De Lima relative to her plan to travel abroad, the DoJ has issued an Allow Departure Order or ADO to allow her to travel abroad because no case has as yet been filed against her before the courts," said the DOJ Saturday morning.

It asserted: "One of the duties of the DoJ is to enforce our laws. Our laws allow people to travel until the proper court issues a Hold Departure Order. We respect and follow the law. Sen De Lima also has a travel authority signed by the Senate President, thus we can allow her. The DoJ under the watch of Sec Aguirre will not be the first to violate the law or to violate the rights of any person."

De Lima, who has tangled with President Duterte in an apparent grudge match rooted in her past work as Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair when she investigated the Davao Death Squad, had earlier sought clearance to travel abroad this month to receive two awards and speak at a conference.

Her seven-year amorous relationship with her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, had put her on the defensive in separate congressional inquiries on the prison drug trade at the House and the Senate, but de Lima had strongly denied allegations she received any funds from high-profile inmates and convicted drug lords, through Dayan, to finance her run for a Senate seat in the May 2016  elections.

On Saturday morning she let loose another counterpunch at the administration by ridiculing the results of a "supposed independent human rights probe" of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

De Lima said in statement the "so-called 'independent probe' conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government is an insult not only to human rights workers but also, most especially, to the Filipino people at a time when the Philippines joins the international community in the observance of Human Rights Day today."  

De Lima asserted: "No one can deny these daily killings, and the criminals are getting bolder and bolder each day.  To say there is no massive human rights violations is like telling us we do not have a traffic problem in the country.  Like the traffic problem, our people are outraged at these continued killings done in the name of government’s all-out war against drugs." 

It would seem, she said, that the DILG or the team that recommended "the creation of a PNP manual which should be available in every police station" is not even aware of the Revised PNP Operational Procedures promulgated in 2013. "This is shocking. Our policemen should know this manual of operations by heart so that they will learn to respect the human rights and dignity of all suspected offenders during police operations at all times."

The release of the DILG report came on the heels of a report by the Senate Justice committee - which de Lima used to chair until she was booted out by her peers, though she remains a member - that there is no evidence of State-sponsored extra-judicial killings despite concern over the rapid rise in body count in Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

The report by the committee, now chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, also said there was no evidence that a "Davao Death Squad" existed, despite the testimony - at de Lima's behest - of confessed DDS member Edgar Matobato.