Philippines: Duterte critic De Lima arrested on drug-related charges

Security personnel escort Sen. Leila de Lima to a press conference Thursday in the Philippines Senate.

Story highlights

  • Supporters condemn haste with which Sen. Leila de Lima ordered arrested
  • De Lima has consistently denied involvement in the illegal drugs trade

Manila, Philippines (CNN)One of the fiercest critics of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Leila de Lima, was arrested Friday morning.

She is accused of having abetted the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary from 2010 to 2015.
Police arrived at the doorstep of her Senate office minutes before 8 a.m. local time, as demonstrators waved banners in her support reading "one for Leila."
    "I will go with them voluntarily," de Lima told reporters. "It is my honor to be jailed for what I am fighting for," she added, as her supporters shouted "laban Leila (fight Leila)" in the background.
    "If they think that by jailing me, I will turn my back on my principles, they are mistaken. Instead, they have encouraged me more to pursue truth and justice," de Lima said in a statement.
    De Lima has consistently insisted she is not involved in the illegal drug trade.

    Arrest ordered

    A judge in the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court ordered de Lima arrested Thursday in what supporters say is a politically motivated vendetta.
    Documents filed said the Department of Justice found "sufficient probable cause for the issuance of the Warrants of Arrest" against de Lima
    Rafael Marcos Ragos and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan were also arrested. Ragos worked as a Bureau of Corrections chief and Dayan was de Lima's former aide.
    "This sets a dangerous precedent for the government to arrest and incarcerate individuals that it perceives as its enemies, on the basis only of mere allegations and without due process," said Sen. Risa Hontiveros in a statement.
    A few hours after the arrest warrant was issued, de Lima told reporters at a press conference that she would not run away from the cases against her.

    Allegations of payoffs

    Duterte first raised the allegations against de Lima in a speech in August.
    She's accused of receiving payoffs from convicted drug lords who were able to continue their illegal operations from behind bars while she was justice secretary. The prison facility is managed by the Bureau of Corrections, an arm of the Department of Justice.
    Ragos and Dayan are accused of asking for money from jailed drug lords to fund de Lima's senatorial bid last year.