Malacañang dispels worries over De Lima's safety after her arrest

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Police take mugshots of Sen. Leila de Lima in Camp Crame, Quezon City

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — There's no need to worry for Senator Leila De Lima's safety, Malacañang said Friday following her arrest.

"I think she should put herself at rest so should the other senators. These things are followed due process and we do respect the rights of everyone," Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella told CNN Philippines.

He also said fears on threats to De Lima's life are unfounded.

"I don't see any reason why anybody would take such a risk at doing something like that, you know, trying an attempt at her life," Abella said.

But De Lima's partymate, Liberal Party President Kiko Pangilinan, is not convinced.

"We're concerned about her safety. Alam mo meron nang pinatay diyan sa loob ng Crame, meron nang sinaksak sa loob ng New Bilibid Prison na kontrolado ng gobyerno e dapat talagang maging mapagbantay at tiyakin as best we can na siya ay ligtas," Pangilinan told CNN Philippines on Friday.

[Translation: "You know someone was killed inside Crame, someone was stabbed inside New Bilibid Prison which are controlled by the government so we really need to be alert and ensure her safety."]

He was referring to the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo right inside the police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City in October last year, and the stabbing incident that wounded high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, who later testified against De Lima's alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Pangilinan said the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center is still not a safe place for De Lima despite PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa's earlier assurance of "complete protection" for her under the PNP's care.

"If the courts will allow her elsewhere that would be ideal for us," Pangilinan said.

De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested at the Senate past 8 a.m. today following an arrest order issued by a Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge yesterday afternoon.

Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero cited probable cause for charges against the Senator who is accused to have abetted the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison while she was Secretary of Justice from 2010 to 2015.

It's also the Muntinlupa RTC that will decide on where De Lima will be detained.

Pangilinan said if De Lima would be jailed together with other inmates, there are those who might retaliate as she was instrumental in their imprisonment when she was Justice Secretary.

"Maraming galit at nais maghiganti kung maari kaya yung kanyang seguridad at kaligtasan niya ay pangunahing concern (Many hate her and wants revenge so her security and safety is really top concern)," Pangilinan said.

He said De Lima has accepted her situation as a consequence for standing for her beliefs.

"She's a tough woman," Pangilinan said. He joined De Lima in her office before her arrest and was part of the convoy that brought the embattled senator to Camp Crame.

De Lima asked for prayers right before leaving the Senate for her arrest, but said it is an honor to be arrested for fighting the Duterte administration.