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Trillanes: De Lima only good at holding press conferences

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday called for the resignation of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whom he accused of not doing her job and is only good at holding press conferences. “Kung paramihan lang ng presscon yung criteria, talagang siya na ang pinakamagaling na secretary. Pero hindi yun eh," Trillanes told reporters in an ambush interview. De Lima shrugged off Trillanes’ criticism, saying “If he thinks I’m not doing what is expected of me, then that’s his opinion." Asked what could have motivated Trillanes to criticize her, De Lima said: " I don't know.... When I was in the CHR [Commission on Human Rights], I even defended his cause." She was referring to the Trillanes-led mutinies in 2003 and 2007. It was not immediately clear what prompted the demand of Trillanes, a former Navy junior officer involved in past coup attempts. But in the media interview, he said De Lima has yet to file cases against high profile personalities. “I hope that she would resign. We gave her enough time to do her job pero wala talaga siyang ginawa...14 months na siyang nakaupo," he said. “Itong mga pina-file na kaso hindi ho kanya yan. Ginawa yun ng BIR [Bureau of Internal Revenue], ginawa yan ng Customs, ginawa yan ng mga private groups. Wala siyang ginawa na kanya," he added. Trillanes said De Lima can prove him wrong by filing a case on her own. “I am daring her to prove me wrong na may ginagawa siya," he said. He said De Lima would have made a good presidential spokesperson instead “To her credit, magaling siya magsalita," Trillanes said. “I believe Malacañang… if they really want to make use of the services of Sec. Leila de Lima, i-assign na lang nila siya na presidential spokesperson." De Lima reacts For her part, De Lima said the cases filed with the DOJ are being handled vigorously by the state prosecutors that are conducting preliminary investigation. She said the DOJ cannot just file cases haphazardly. “In the first place, the core mandate of the DOJ is prosecution and before prosecution, you have to determine probable cause. And before that, you must have the necessary evidence.... So we cannot just be filing cases when there is no evidence. We have to get first the evidence so there’s a due determination of probable cause," she said. De Lima said she is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t" situation because various parties will find her efforts either too aggressive or wanting. She said that while Trillanes believes she is not doing enough, the camps of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo are also saying she is overstepping her mandate in issuing watch list orders against them. “So where should I position myself?" the Justice chief asked. Despite the polarity in the criticisms, De Lima said that she will continue making the most out of her department’s duty to investigate and prosecute offenders. She added that she has ordered prosecutors to assist in the case build-up in connection with allegations of misuse of public funds in the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and in the Philippine National Police's purchase of choppers in 2009. "Unfair" Meanwhile, at a press briefing, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda described as unfair Trillanes' statement against De Lima, a trusted member of the Cabinet. "That’s pretty unfair for Senator Trillanes to say that. Secretary de Lima is a trusted member of the official family. The President relies on her for her legal opinions," he said. He added that De Lima is in the Palace twice or thrice a week to confer with the President. Lacierdaalso noted the number of cases filed before the DOJ. "It’s not true that the Secretary of Justice is not doing anything. I beg to disagree and she’s one of the most hardworking members of the official family," he said. - with Amita Legaspi, KBK/YA/VVP, GMA News