Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has belittled defeated senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino’s “desperate plan” to use the perjured testimonies of convicted criminals against her in his baseless election protest.
De Lima, a former election lawyer, maintained that Tolentino’s reliance on the perjured testimonies of untrustworthy convicted criminals to support his case “only shows how hollow it already is.”
“Tolentino should study his own election protest case with his lawyers before talking about it in public because he only exposes his ignorance about his own case,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 390.
“(He) cannot even get this simple fact straight explains his absolute ignorance about the facts of his own election protest case. This includes his allegations of cheating which up to now he cannot prove or clearly explain in public,” she added.
According to De Lima, Tolentino’s accusation of cheating is nothing but a “plot for a cheap paperback novel” which up to now has remained a “fantastic story that only losers in elections are capable of concocting.” “[H]is cited ground of failure to report to COMELEC the convicts’ alleged contributions is not proper in an election protest case. Besides, these individuals are even disqualified by law from becoming state witnesses because they are criminal convicts,” she pointed out.
“The law deems their word unreliable and untrustworthy. The claim of some of them that they gave money for my campaign funds is an absolute falsehood,” she added.
Tolentino, who is now Mr. Duterte’s political adviser, had lost by more than 1.3 million votes to De Lima for the 12th spot in the winning senatorial candidates in the 2016 national elections.
In his electoral protest, Tolentino alleged fraud and irregularities as the cause of his defeat in the 2016 senatorial elections. De Lima has since considered Tolentino’s protest as baseless and lacks legal basis.
He recently claimed he can use in his electoral protest the testimony of several drug lords like Herbert Colango – one of the government prosecution’s witnesses in the trumped-up illegal drug trade case filed against De Lima– against the Senator herself.
“Tolentino’s election protest case remains a sputtering engine that has failed to take off from the very start for lack of any evidence that he was cheated,” De Lima said.
On Tolentino’s claim that he automatically takes his oath as senator should De Lima resign, the former justice secretary said he only exposes his ignorance about his own case.
“There is no provision in our election laws which states that if the 12th-ranked winning senator resigns, the 13th-ranked but losing senatorial candidate automatically becomes senator,” she said.
“He will never be a senator unless he is proclaimed the rightful winner in an election protest. And Tolentino is still light-years away from proving in the election protest he filed against me that he actually won in the 2016 senatorial elections,” she added.
Instead of resorting to obviously desperate moves, the Senator from Bicol advised Tolentino to simply accept the fact that he has lost. “My advice to him is that he should take his defeat like an honorable man, and just prove himself worthy of the post by winning in the next elections,” she said.