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MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 5 - 11:48 a.m., February 24, 2017) Insisting on her innocence and declaring it "an honor to be jailed for what I believe in," Senator Leila de Lima gave up to police officers who had waited overnight to serve the warrant for her arrest issued by a Muntinlupa City trial court on drug charges.
De Lima emerged from her office at the Senate, where she had spent the night around 8 a.m., and after brief comments to waiting journalists, descended to the basement of the building where she was taken into custody by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and loaded into a coaster that left in a convoy to Camp Crame, where she was booked.
NEWS5 VIDEO OF SEN DE LIMA LEAVING THE SENATE:
She was then taken to the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 where she was presented to Judge Juanita T. Guerrero, who issued the warrant of arrest, and also issued a commitment order to detain the senator at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Also ordered arrested by Guerrero on drug trading charges filed by the Deparment of Justice were former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and De Lima's former driver-bodyguard and alleged drug money bagman Ronnie Dayan.
At about 7 p.m. Thursday, a police team arrested Dayan in his home in Barangay Galarin, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan. This was confirmed by Senior Superintendent Ronald O. Lee, the acting provincial police director.
Dayan was also presented before Guerrero late Friday morning, just minutes after De Lima left Muntinlupa for Camp Crame.
WATCH THE NEWS5 REPORT ON RONNIE DAYAN'S ARREST:
De Lima was supposed to spend Thursday night with her family in Parañaque City and pack her things but rushed back to the Senate after learning the CIDG arresting team had gone to her home.
Before meeting the arresting team, De Lima, sounding defiant, told reporters: "Nananalig po ako sa Diyos na malalampasan ko rin po lahat na ito ... sa bandang huli lalabas ang katotohanan at makakamit ko ang hustisya (I trust in God to allow me to overcome all this ... in the end the truth will come out and justice will be mine)."
SENATOR DE LIMA MAKES A STATEMENT AFTER EMERGING FROM HER OFFICE TO GIVE HERSELF UP TO THE POLICE ARRESTING TEAM IN THIS VIDEO BY INTERAKSYON.COM'S BERNARD TESTA:
She maintained that the drug trafficking charges filed against were "pawang kasinungalingan (all lies)" but stressed: "Kung sa tingin nila ay mapapatahimik nila ako, na hindi na ako lalaban ... para sa katotohanan at katarungan laban sa araw-araw na pamamatay ... at iba pang panggigipit ... karangalan ko na ako’y makulong dahil sa ipinaglalaban ko (If they believe they can silence me, that I will stop fighting ... for truth and justice against the daily killings ... and other oppression ... it will be an honor to be jailed for what I believe in)."
Senator Leila de Lima, accompanied by her lawyer Alex Padilla and Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia Jr., surrenders to a CIDG arresting team at the Senate. (photo by Bernard Testa, InterAksyon.com)
"Please pray for me," she added.
De Lima was accompanied on the coaster by her counsel, human rights lawyer Alex Padilla, and a few members of her staff.
In an ambush interview with reporters on her return to the Senate late Thursday, De Lima appealed to the Philippine National Police not to insist on arresting her at night.
WATCH SENATOR LEILA DE LIMA TALK TO REPORTERS AFTER RETURNING TO THE SENATE THURSDAY NIGHT IN THIS VIDEO BY INTERAKSYON.COM'S BERNARD TESTA:
She said she had learned that PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa had given the orders for her immediate arrest. The senator, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, implied dela Rosa was under orders from higher-ups since there was an earlier agreement with Interior Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno to serve the warrant of arrest Friday morning.
“The fact na si Gen. Dela Rosa mismo ang nag-desisyon, hindi ba boss niya dapat si Secretary Sueno? So may nag-overrule na mas mataas. Ganun ang reading ko (The fact that Gen. Dela Rosa himself decided, shouldn’t his boss be Secretary Sueno? So someone even higher up overruled the agreement. That is my reading),” she said.
"Pumunta ako agad dito dahil ayaw ko talaga na arestuhin nila ako sa bahay ko kasi nandun ang pamilya ko (I rushed back here because I really don't want to be arrested at home, because my family is there)," de Lima said.
"Sana po, 'wag nilang pilitin na arestuhin ako dito; sana po maghintay lang sila sa labas (I hope they won't insist on arresting me here. I hope they'll just wait outside)."
De Lima added, "What is the difference between tonight and tomorrow morning? Masyado naman hong (It is very) unusual, and to me unjust kung pipilitin nilang ngayong gabi (if they insist on arresting me tonight). Anyway, hindi naman ako tatakas (I won't escape).
"I'll just stay here sa Senado and wait for the sun to rise," the senator said.
She appealed for "some respect to the Senate as an institution," noting the arrangement clearly laid down by Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III for police units to not enter the Senate premises and let the Senate Sergeant at Arms convey the warrant and allow de Lima to come down to the doorway on her own.
"Hindi ko nga ho maintindihan yun. May arrangement naman sa kanila. Hindi naman ako tatakas, hindi ako magtatago, hindi ako iiwas (I can't understand this. They have an arrangement. I will not escape, I willl not hide, I will not evade)," de Lima said, adding, "bigla lang hong nagbago. Desisyon daw yata ni (suddenly, things changed. It was said that it's a decision of) General dela Rosa."
As a result of her having to rush back to seek refuge in the Senate, de Lima said she did not have a chance to see her children at home, because they were still stuck in traffic on their way home when she had to leave again.
De Lima this week branded Duterte a "sociopathic serial killer" as she called for ordinary Filipinos to stand up in opposition to his drug war, which has seen more than 6,500 people killed since he took office eight months ago.
Amnesty International said Thursday that it would regard de Lima as a prisoner of conscience.
"The arrest of de Lima is a blatant attempt by the Philippine government to silence criticism of President Duterte and divert attention away from serious human rights violations in the 'war on drugs'," it said.
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 war on illegal drugs targets all who are involved and the arrest of an incumbent senator demonstrates the President’s strong resolve to fight pushers, peddlers and their protectors," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. (with a report from Agence France-Presse)