De Lima prepared to be 'first political prisoner under this regime'

MANILA, Philippines – The drug case filed against her on Friday, February 17, is “plain and simple political persecution,” Senator Leila de Lima said, but added she has prepared herself to be the "first politlcal prisoner under this regime."

In a text message to reporters, the opposition senator said: “This is travesty of truth and justice.” She vowed to “fight this out for as long as I can.”

Later in a statement, De Lima added: "I have long prepared myself to be the first political prisoner under this regime, because the criminal charges and prosecution are nothing less than a politically motivated act by the Duterte regime to clamp down on any vocal opposition against its support for a policy of EJK (extrajudicial killings) in dealing with suspected criminals." 

The Department of Justice, an agency she once led, filed the drug charges against De Lima before a local court in Muntinlupa, where the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) is located. The case was based on testimonies of Bilibid inmates last year, who claimed she received money from them in exchange for their protection.

The filing of the drug case caps 5 months of government exposés against De Lima. The drug scandal dragged her former driver and ex-lover, who at first refused but later agreed to testify against her before lawmakers. (READ: De Lima advised me to hide, skip House probe - Dayan)

"Perhaps my looming imprisonment based on false charges filed against me by the DOJ, while Janet Lim Napoles's release is being supported by the OSG, is the wakeup call that our country needs," she said. (READ: SolGen moves to acquit Napoles in Luy detention case)

Shortly after winning the senatorial race in May 2016, De Lima led a Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines following the new administration's declaration of war on drugs.

She presented self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, who claimed he was once part of the “Davao Death Squad” that supposedly targets criminals as well as the personal and political rivals of Duterte and his son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.

A few days later, the senator lost the chairmanship of the Senate committee on justice and human rights. Then the House of Representatives began investigating the alleged proliferation of drugs inside the NBP when De Lima was justice secretary. – Rappler.com