Leila De Lima Turns Self In To CIDG To Face Arrest

Philippine drug war critic Leila de Lima was a highly paid lawyer who switched focus mid-career to human rights, a decision that would draw her into the deadly world of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Earlier on Thursday, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Muntinlupa issued a warrant of arrest against De Lima over the three drug-related charges filed against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for supposedly violating the Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

She denounced the charges as "plain and simple political persecution" for her opposition to Duterte's drug war, which has left thousands of people dead amid police operations and alleged extrajudicial killings.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Friday said that there was no irregularity in the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group's (PNP-CIDG) serving of the warrant of arrest against Senator Leila M. De Lima on Thursday night.

"This arrest is purely political vendetta and has no place in [a] justice system that upholds the rule of law".

But de Lima's supporters quickly came to her defense, with Vice President Leni Robredo describing the arrest as "political harassment".

Guerrero ordered De Lima's arrest after she cited probable cause for charges against the senator.

When de Lima headed the government's Commission on Human Rights, she tried unsuccessfully to have Duterte prosecuted when he was mayor of Davao city for allegedly unlawful deaths that occurred during an anti-drug crackdown in the city.

During her press conference, De Lima said the issuance of the warrant against her was "questionable" as a hearing into motions to quash the cases against her was scheduled for today.

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"The truth will be out in the right time".

Ilagan, a playwright who was tortured over two years in a police prison under Marcos' martial rule in the 1970s, cited the "culture of impunity" arising from Duterte's crackdown. "I am innocent", she told reporters shortly before being escorted away.

Unlike high-profile criminals arrested by the police in the past, the heavily guarded de Lima was not in handcuffs and did not wear a bullet-proof vest.

Pangilinan said De Lima was "composed" after her arrest, but her blood pressure was slightly elevated.

But Duterte's aides said De Lima's imminent arrest showed even the most powerful people would be brought to justice if they broke the law.

The BBC reported that the organization Human Rights Watch condemned de Lima's arrest and called it vindictive.

"I am bothered by statements attributed to him (Duterte). which tend to condone this phenomenon of illegal or vigilante-style killings", De Lima says at the inquiry.

Senator Paulo Benigno Aquino, a cousin of former president Benigno Aquino, called it "a concern for anyone who will dissent on any of the policies of this administration".

"Not only Congress, but other pillars of Philippine democracy should be deeply anxious", the official from the US-based rights monitor added.

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