Philippines police arrest president's critic

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday assured that there is no VIP treatment for embattled Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested for drug trafficking charges.

MANILA -Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Thursday warned Senator Leila de Lima that she could be cited for inciting to sedition over her continuous tirades against President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alvarez said the drug trade case filed by the Department of Justice relied on the House of Representatives inquiry in aid of legislation on the New Bilibid Prison drug trade where De Lima allegedly raised campaign funds.

De Lima voluntarily gave herself over to arresting officers who were waiting for her at the Senate compound, one day after a warrant was put out for her arrest.

As Duterte launched a Davao-style anti-crime crackdown across the Philippines that would go on to claim thousands of lives, De Lima was one of the few politicians willing to criticise him.

The Philippines government has rejected accusations of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings, insisting that the rule of law and human rights are being respected.

"These are all lies", Ms Lima said, adding that the case against her arrest might be the "wakeup call" the country needs, referring to the absence of a public outcry in the country over the killings in the anti-drug campaign.

"Lalabas po ang katotohanan sa tamang panahon (The truth will come out in the right time)", she also said.

De Lima will share the same detention facility as Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, who are facing plunder charges for their alleged involvement in the P10-billion pork barrel scam.

Leila de Lima supporters outside the Philippine Senate where the senator was arrested. After the vote, she publicly recommended Duterte's impeachment. She was finally arrested at the Senate on Friday.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Lima was calm after receiving confirmation that the warrant was issued and had consulted with her lawyers, staff and allies about her next move.

Previously, de Lima also probed Duterte's connection to Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group that targeted petty criminals and drug offenders when she chaired the human rights commission from 2008 to 2010 and was justice secretary from 2010 to 2015.

The warrants of arrest, which pertain to Criminal Case No. 17-165, charges the three of violating Section 5 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, The Manila Bulletin reported.

Since then, about 7,700 people have been killed in the narcotics crackdown, according to Reuters.

"The war on illegal drugs targets all who are involved and the arrest of an incumbent senator demonstrates the President's strong resolve to fight pushers, peddlers and their protectors", presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. More than just for her arrest, many are afraid of an unofficial execution for President Duterte's vocal critic.

  • Leroy Wright