Arrest lauded as a ‘victory,’ hit as ‘political persecution’
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez hailed the arrest of Senator Leila De Lima as a triumph of the administration’s brutal crackdown on illegal drugs—but another lawmaker said it was nothing but political persecution.
In a statement Thursday evening, Alvarez said the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court’s issuance of an arrest warrant against De Lima on allegations of drug trade “was a victory of the war against drugs.”
De Lima was served her arrest warrant at the Senate Friday morning. Her alleged cohort, former driver Ronnie Dayan, was also arrested in Pangasinan.
“It shows justice is working in our beloved nation,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said the drug trade case filed by the Department of Justice relied on the House of Representatives inquiry in aid of legislation on the New Bilibid Prison drug trade where De Lima allegedly raised campaign funds.
Convicted drug personalities alleged under oath that De Lima had ordered them to raise funds for her senatorial campaign through the drug trade.
“No one is above the law, not even a senator of the Republic. Senator De Lima should peacefully submit herself to the custody of authorities upon receipt of the arrest warrant,” Alvarez said.
“She should now prepare her legal defense against the grave charges against her that merit a long prison term if she is found guilty after a fair trial. Let the wheel of justice turn and take its course,” he added.
But an ally of De Lima in the House cried political persecution at a time the country is commemorating the Edsa People Power revolt.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin called De Lima’s arrest an “ugly episode” and said it was political persecution.
“This is an ugly episode. I hope she is afforded respect and given an opportunity to be with family members. I pray for her safety,” Villarin said.
Villarin said her drug-related offenses are trumped-up charges meant to persecute De Lima due to politics.
“She is a victim of political persecution as charges against her are trumped up. It demeans our sense of justice and fairness,” Villarin said. JN
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