SENATOR Leila de Lima dodged arrest late Thursday and fled to the Senate even after the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court issued a warrant in connection with the drug trafficking charges filed against her.
Police said they tried to serve the warrant on De Lima at the Senate but the lawmen spoke with Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia Jr. and they agreed to defer the arrest until morning.
De Lima was earlier allowed to go home and prepare for arrest Friday morning but rushed back to the Senate after lawmen were ordered to effect the arrest Thursday night.
“I feel less safe if they insist on arresting me tonight… I don’t want my family to see me being arrested,” said the 57-year-old senator whose boyfriend Ronnie Dayan was arrested in Pangasinan.
Aside from De Lima and Dayan, also included in the arrest warrant was former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos.
“I have no plan to escape my case. I have no plan to hide because I will face all my cases,” De Lima said in a dramatic press conference she called early Thursday evening.
“Since at this very moment, 7:20 pm, there is no warrant of arrest yet, I want to go home to spend time with my family. I will get my things to be brought to jail. I will go home tonight and return tomorrow morning here in the Senate and wait for the arresting team,” she said.
She said she was well aware that the charges against her are non-bailable but her lawyers will question the warrant of arrest in court.
De Lima is accused of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in line with allegations that she allowed the illegal drug trade to flourish in the New Bilibid Prison when she was still Justice secretary.
Dayan allegedly acted as her bagman in the NBP while Ragos confessed that he delivered millions of pesos in drug payoffs to De Lima’s house.
The cases against De Lima stemmed from the complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption; the NBI; former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Rule Lasala; and high-profile Bilibid inmate and self-confessed drug trader Jaybee Sebastian.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Thursday said the pressure on De Lima was making her crazy.
“It is for her best interest that she engages the services of a competent medical professional to assist her in these trying times,” Panelo said.
Panelo also echoed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who warned De Lima against inciting the people to rebel against the President, whom she branded as a “sociopathic murderer” and a dictator.
“Her continued and relentless tirades against President Duterte could lead to criminal liability for the commission of the crime of inciting to sedition,” Panelo said.
Panelo said that under the law, “inciting to sedition refers to a crime committed by someone who, without taking any direct part in sedition, incites others to inflict any act of hate or revenge against the person of the President by means of speech, among others.”
He also said karma had finally caught up with the senator, who now faces arrest and detention, much in the same way that former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo did when De Lima was Justice secretary.
“Unlike when she effected the arrest of former President [Arroyo] despite the absence of a criminal charge and a warrant of arrest, she will now be arrested and detained pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by a competent court. She is being given due process which she shamelessly denied [President Arroyo] when she was secretary of Justice,” Panelo said.
De Lima earlier urged the public to speak out against crimes being committed by the President.
“Now is the time to make a stand and rise up in the face of a criminal dictator and a repressive regime,” the senator said.
“Lend your voice. Lend your voice of outrage [for] what’s happening in the country,” she said.
De Lima said the President, whom she accused of being liable for the killings of the Davao Death Squad, is “the number one criminal in the Philippines, if not the world.”
“Senator Leila de Lima may be off her rockers when she described President Duterte as a sociopathic serial killer and dictator,” Panelo said.
De Lima has denied all the charges against her, saying the accusations were payback for her crusade against Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
In a statement, De Lima said the President and Aguirre should be arrested for committing the most seditious and murderous act of inciting people to violence against mere suspected pushers and users in the last seven months.
“This administration has been committing acts of sedition since the beginning for pitting the population against each other in a drug war that calls for the elimination of an entire class of the population which, according to the President, consists of 3 million pushers and users,” De Lima said.
“The single most abominable act of sedition is Aguirre and Duterte inciting acts of hate and violence on the people they identify as no longer humans, while being in government by virtue of a Constitution that tells them that no one shall be deprived of life without due process of law,” she added.
By calling a part of the population as sub-humans and ordering their killing without due process, De Lima said, the regime has overthrown constitutional order through a political coup and by perverting an electoral mandate to perpetrate a policy of premeditated mass murder.
She called Aguirre and Duterte “rebels and inciters” against a constitutional order that values life and due process above everything else.