MANILA, Philippines – National police chief Ronald dela Rosa on Saturday, February 18, assured former justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima of her safety inside Camp Crame, should she be ordered arrested and detained inside the police camp.
“I promise her she will be very, very safe inside Camp Crame,” said Dela Rosa on the sidelines of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) homecoming in Baguio City.
Dela Rosa was being asked about charges filed by the justice department against De Lima and several others for their supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade.
According to the charge sheet issued by a Department of Justice panel, De Lima violated Section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which penalizes the "sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs."
Violators face 12 years to life imprisonment and fines ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
The case was filed before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court and will be raffled off to a specific sala on Monday, February 20.
While clarifying that there have been no discussions about De Lima’s case and possible arrest, Dela Rosa said he is “waiting for instructions from a competent court” in the event the Custodial Center inside Camp Crame is designated as her detention facility.
“For me, this is one of the most secured detention center in the whole country because it’s inside Camp Crame. So I am offering that facility to give her complete protection because she is a senator,” said Dela Rosa.
The Custodial Center is a detention facility inside Camp Crame that is home to several high profile personalities ordered arrested by different courts. Among those detained inside are insurgency leaders, police accused of corruption, and two former senators whose fate in jail De Lima once facilitated.
Former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla have been detained inside the Custodial Center since 2014 for supposedly pocketing government funds in the so-called pork barrel scam.
De Lima insists the claims against her are false and had said she is willing to be the “first political prisoner” under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
The newbie senator is among the most vocal critics of Duterte and his administration. She led a Senate probe into allegations of state-sponsored killings in Duterte’s war on drugs but this was derailed after the Senate ousted her as Senate chairman.
The popular but controversial war on drugs has since been put in limbo after Duterte himself ordered a stop to all police anti-illegal drug operations after it was revealed that police masterminded the kidnap and murder of a South Korean businessman, Jee Ick Joo.