STICKING to her promise, Senator Leila De Lima turned herself in on Friday morning, February 24 to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Escorted by Senate Sergeant at Arms Jose Balajadia, De Lima left her Senate office past 8 a.m. and yielded to the authorities who served the arrest warrant against her.
Briefly speaking to reporters, the senator maintained her innocence before she was handed over to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).
“These are all lies. The truth will come out and I will achieve justice. I am innocent,” she said.
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.
De Lima was allowed to spend the night at her office on Thursday before the scheduled arrest on Friday.
“It is my honor to be jailed for what I am fighting for,” De Lima said.
The senator, who has been a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, stressed that the charges won’t silence her and insisted that she will continue to fight “for the truth and the persecution of the Duterte regime.”
She earlier called herself a “political prisoner,” claiming that the charges against her were “politically motivated” by the Duterte administration.
She accused the president of masterminding the raps against her as an example to scare the critics of the present administration. She called him a “sociopathic serial killer” and the “the number one criminal in the Philippines.
But according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, the cases filed against Senator De Lima are all “criminal in nature” and are “not politically motivated.”
Malacañang previously described the warrant of arrest against De Lima a “major step forward” in the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
Dousing fears over the senator’s safety, Malacañang also said that De Lima can “put herself at rest.”
In a televised interview on Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said that PNP chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa assured that De Lima will be kept safe at Camp Crame despite her claims that there are possible threats to her life.
Abella also affirmed that De Lima “will have the opportunity to defend herself and prove her innocence.”
“The court has established probable cause therefore, let us keep our faith in the judicial system. The moral arc is long but it always bends towards justice,” he added.
Senator Antonio Trillanes, who is also one of Duterte’s staunch critics, described De Lima’s arrest as “a chilling message to the political opposition and critics” that they could be the next one to be sent to prison.
But Trillanes pointed out that De Lima’s arrest has the “exactly opposite” effect against him.
He said he is “now motivated more than ever” to expose Duterte for allegedly “being a plunderer and mass murderer that he truly is.”
“Ako ang susunod (I’m next)? Plano nga nila akong unahin e, pero sige (I was supposed to be their first, but) bring it on, do your worst,” the senator dared.
Trillanes previously accused Duterte of corruption and claimed that the latter supposedly had P2 billion in undeclared funds in his bank accounts.
The senator also sought the opening of an investigation of Duterte’s alleged involvement in the so-called “Davao Death Squad,” when he was the mayor of the city for over two decades.