Duterte critic Leila de Lima vows to fight charges, seeks prayers for safety in jail

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Senator Leila de Lima says her camp and police agreed the arrest would happen on Friday, but they were dismayed to find out the police planned to arrest her on Thursday night. Video: Rappler

By Camille Elemia in Manila

She had long anticipated that day to come but when it did, she was brought to tears.

Senator Leila de Lima, the fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, vowed to face her impending arrest after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 in Manila issued a warrant.

READ MORE: Who is the judge who ordered De Lima’s arrest?

Despite questions on the legality of the warrant, De Lima reiterated that she would not evade the law.

“Katulad nang nasabi ko dati, wala po akong balak takasan ‘yung mga kaso ko, walang balak magtago, dahil haharapin ko po ang kaso na ‘yan,” De Lima said in a press conference.

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(Like what I said before, I have no plans to escape, I have no plans to hide because I will face the charges against me.)

De Lima, flanked by her colleagues from the Liberal Party, expressed her wish to go home to her family. Her voice broke as she talked about them.

READ MORE: LP senators on pending arrest of Leila de Lima

She vowed to return to the Senate early Friday morning to submit to the arresting officers.

“So uuwi po ako ngayong gabi at babalik po ako rito bukas ng umaga. Dito ko po sa Senado hihintayin ang arresting team. Hihintayin ko po sila, kusa po ako susuko sa kanila. Pero sa ngayon po, ang gusto ko na muna po makapiling ang aking pamilya sa bahay. Babalik po ako bukas ng umaga,” a crying De Lima said.

(So I will go home tonight and come back here tomorrow. I will wait for the arresting team here in the Senate. I will wait for them, I will voluntarily surrender to them. But for now, all I want is to be with my family. I will return tomorrow morning.)

After the media conference, LP senators, who earlier condemned the impending arrest, accompanied De Lima on her way home to Parañaque.

“Siyempre, malungkot tayo dahil ‘di tama yung pagsampa ng kaso sa RTC at yung kakulangan ng ebidensya (Of course we are sad because the filing of charges before the RTC is not right, and also there’s a lack of evidence),” Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, told Rappler.

Former president Benigno Aquino III, De Lima’s former boss, has yet to talk to the party, said Pangilinan.

Pray for me, fight is far from over

De Lima took the chance to seek prayers from the public for her security in detention – a concern she had long publicised, citing the deaths of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr in a Leyte jail and of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo in Camp Crame.

“Sa inyo pong lahat, humihiling po ako ng dasal na sana maging safe and secure po ako saan man ako dalhin, saan man ako ikukulong (To all of you, I ask for your prayers that I be safe and secure wherever they will detain me),” De Lima said.

“Alam ‘nyo naman po ang so-called charges sa ‘kin ay non-bailable. bahala na po aking abogado, kung anong legal remedy gagawin nila dyan sa questionable pagkaka-issue ng order of arrest, warrant of arrest ngayon,” she added.

READ MORE: Backgrounder: What is Leila de Lima being accused of?

(You know that the so-called charges against me are non-bailable. It all depends on my lawyers, whatever legal remedy they will do to question the issuance of an order of arrest, warrant of arrest.)

Despite the emotionally charged press conference, De Lima still managed to show her usual feisty side.

“Tuloy po ang laban ni Leila de Lima, (The fight of Leila de Lima continues),” she said.

Camille Elemia is a journalist with Rappler.

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