Leila de Lima, one of the fiercest critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, was arrested in Manila on drug-related charges.
De Lima has called the indictments politically motivated and said they were meant to clamp down on her opposition to the president’s deadly drug war. “Please pray for me”, De Lima told reporters before she entered the police van, reported AFP. “If they think they can stop me from fighting these daily murders, they are wrong”.
De Lima has questioned the filing of charges against her at a Muntinlupa court, saying her alleged offenses should have been forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman and that the Sandiganbayan ant-graft court should hear the cases against her.
Duterte’s chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said in a statement on Thursday de Lima’s arrest was an opportunity to answer the allegations in court.
To recall, the PNP-CIDG came to serve De Lima’s arrest Thursday night, breaking the agreement to serve it Friday morning.
Guerrero ordered De Lima’s arrest after she cited probable cause for charges against the senator.
Duterte expanded the crackdown nationwide after becoming president last June, and de Lima has continued to criticize him after winning a Senate seat past year.
De Lima has vehemently denied the charges, which she says are part of Duterte’s attempt to intimidate critics of his crackdown, which has left more than 7,000 drug suspects dead.
The allegations she was in cahoots with drugs gangs surfaced when she led a Senate investigation, which probed alleged summary executions during Duterte’s bloody drugs war and a pattern of similar killings over the 22 years in which he was mayor of Davao City.
The total of P10 million, with the addition of P100,000 each collected from the NBP high-profile drug inmates, was supposedly given to de Lima through Ragos and Ronnie Dayan, de Lima’s former aide. The cases pertaining to her criminal liability as a government official were filed by the Department of Justice.
De Lima also recorded a polemical video just before her arrest in which she called for Filipinos to show courage and oppose Duterte’s drug war, which has seen more than 6,500 people killed since he took office eight months ago.
PNP spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos earlier said in a news conference that the former detention rooms of former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile or of Communist-rebel couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are among the cells where De Lima might be placed.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, a close ally of Mr Duterte, warned the remarks were seditious.