De Lima to turn herself in but 'fight continues'

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Sen. Leila de Lima talks to reporters right after an arrest warrant was issued for her.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The usually feisty Sen. Leila de Lima broke into tears as she faced the media early Thursday evening shortly after a local court issued an arrest warrant against her for drug-related cases.

Talking to reporters at the Senate, De Lima said she was surprised by the turn of events given the fact that her lawyers had filed motions to quash or dismiss the three cases against her filed at separate branches of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.

She said the release of the arrest order was "questionable" since the motions were yet to be heard Friday.

"Sa katunayan, yung prosecution nga po, specifically DOJ ay nagpa-postpone pa nga, nagpa-reset po ng hearing bukas for March 3," she explained.

[Translation: In fact, the prosecution/DOJ had moved to postpone the hearing tomorrow to March 3.]

But just the same, De Lima maintained she had no intention to run or evade arrest — saying she would be at the Senate the next morning and would wait for the arresting team to take her into custody.

Related: Court orders law enforcement agencies to arrest De Lima, et al

For the moment, she said she'd be going home and prepare for her impending detention. It was at this point that the lawmaker broke into tears.

"Ninanais ko muna po na umuwi muna para makapiling ko na muna po ang aking pamilya at para kunin ko na po yung mga dadalhin kong gamit sa kulungan."

[Translation: I just want to go home (tonight) so I can be with my family, and to pack things that I would be bringing to detention.]

 

This was the second time the combative senator broke down in front of the media since the Duterte administration launched what she described as political persecution and vendetta against her. In September last year, she also turned emotional as she dared the President to arrest her right then and there at the Senate.

She thanked her Liberal Party-mates Thursday night for standing by her. She also acknowledged her supporters and alluded to recent events wherein detainees had been killed while behind bars.

Related: Albuera Mayor Espinosa, 1 other inmate killed in jail cell shootout – CIDG

"Sa inyo pong lahat, humihingi lang po ako ng inyong dasal na sana maging safe and secure po ako saan man nila ako dadalhin, saan man nila ako ikukulong."

[Translation: I ask everyone for prayers that I may be safe and secure wherever they may detain me.]

Ending her short speech, the senator said, "Tuloy and laban ni Leila de Lima [The fight continues]."

Change of plans

Later in the evening, the senator returned to her office at the Senate. She told reporters that she got wind that the police were on their way to her house in Parañaque to serve the arrest warrant.

She said it was Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa who wanted to make the arrest in the evening — contrary, she said, to what the Interior secretary and Senate President had agreed upon that the arrest would be in the morning.

Given the developments, De Lima said she would instead be spending the night at the Senate building and wait for the arresting team.

Daytime arrest agreed upon

True enough, an arresting team from the PNP's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) was on De Lima's trail.

Around 11 p.m., CIDG officers arrived at the Senate — armed with an arrest warrant for the senator.

The policemen proceeded to the office of the sergeant-at-arms, where the media was not allowed entry. The closed-door meeting lasted 40 minutes or so.

Before midnight, Senate sergeant-at-arms Jose Balajadia said that it was agreed upon that De Lima's arrest would be carried out in the morning, before 10 a.m. Friday.