Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, arrested

In a statement issued earlier this week, Liberal International (LI) extended its support to the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LPP), and said it is "deeply concerned" about De Lima's arrest, as well as the "deteriorating human rights situation in general".

Aguirre said De Lima refused to answer the charges when those were still undergoing preliminary investigation by a panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice, and instead filed a motion with the Court of Appeals questioning the DOJ's panel's authority to conduct the investigation and issue a resolution, and insisted that the Office of the Ombudsman is the proper investigating body.

Sources from the Philippine National Police (PNP) released to the media the mugshots of Senator Leila de Lima taken after her arrest on Friday morning.

About 15 minutes later, she was escorted by a dozen of CIDG cops wearing bulletproof vests to Branch 204 to return the warrant of arrest and get the commitment order.

De Lima returned to Camp Crame at 1:11 p.m. Friday.

A separate report said that the DOJ panel's charge sheet stated that De Lima had violated sections 5 and 22 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which penalises the "sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs".

"I call on the public to express their strong disapproval of this double standard of justice which is being used against her to send a chilling message that the administration seems not to tolerate constructive criticisms and presentations of alternatives", she added.

De Lima was removed by Duterte's allies as head of the investigation into extrajudicial killings and just days later came under investigation herself in a congressional inquiry in which witnesses testified to her having a pivotal role in the narcotics trade. In a statement reported on ABS CBN, VACC legal counsel Ferdinand Topacio said: "Slowly but surely, the wheels of justice continue to grind against Senator Leila de Lima".

De Lima also stated that the criminal charges filed against her are a result of the president's "fixation for revenge".

A court ordered de Lima's arrest on Thursday after she was indicted over allegations she let the illegal drug flourish inside the national jail during her time as justice secretary.

In an emotional press conference last night, De Lima said she would not hide and would wait at the Senate for the arresting team.

"These are all lies", she said of the charges. They state the bribes helped pay for her 2016 Senate campaign and that contributors in the prison received special favors.

Pangilinan said Aquino also called him at the Senate to check on De Lima's situation. For the party, "the arrest is purely a political vendetta".

"You can see on her face the indignation, as if she were saying, "I would do this as part of the process" even if she did not believe she needed to do that", Bag-ao said.

Ms De Lima is perhaps the loudest voice in Congress opposing Mr Duterte's controversial anti-crime drive.

  • Carolyn Briggs