Senator and renowned President Duterte critic de Lima arrested for drug-related charges

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a 97 per cent kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet that police were summarily shooting drug suspects. Photograph:( AFP )

Reuters Manila, NCR, Philippines Feb 24, 2017, 02.15 AM (IST)

 

A staunch critic of President Duterte's war on drugs has been arrested on drug trafficking charges. Here's more to this story (WION)

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A Philippine senator and staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs was arrested on Friday on charges she received money from drug dealers inside the country's prisons.

Senator Leila de Lima, her former driver and bodyguard, and a former national prison official were ordered arrested by a local court which found merit in criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice last week.

"The truth will be out in the right time. If they think they can silence me, if they think I can no longer fight for what I'm fighting for, especially finding the truth behind the daily killings, the other issues, the pressures and tyranny under Duterte's regime, then it is my honour to get arrested because of what I'm fighting for," she told reporters shortly before law enforcers escorted her away from her office.

About 7,700 people have died in the narcotics crackdown, with more than 2,500 people killed in anti-drug operations, according to police.

She is facing two more drug-related charges in the same court. The criminal cases filed against the senator and two others are non-bailable.

De Lima, a human rights lawyer before joining government, says the charges are a vendetta against her after she last year led a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings during Duterte`s anti-drugs crackdown.

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.

The Justice Department said de Lima received five million Philippine pesos ($99,850) delivered by the former prison official to her home when she was justice minister between 2010 and 2016.

Duterte's chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, said in a statement on Thursday de Lima's arrest was an opportunity to answer the allegations in court.

(Reuters)