Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima was detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame past noon Friday, February 24, after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 issued a commitment order.
At shortly past 1 pm, De Lima entered the same compound where former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr are currently detained over graft and plunder charges in connection with the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.
"I'm okay," the senator, who was at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) headquarters in Camp Crame awaiting detention, said in a phone interview with ANC when asked how she was.
De Lima reiterated that she had prepared herself "psychologically" as she had anticipated her arrest and detention, being a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his vaunted war on drugs.
Even so, she said, "I could not imagine myself to be in this situation in the sense that I'm now an accused – a former secretary of justice now turned accused based on false charges." (READ: TIMELINE: De Lima – from drug probe to arrest)
PNP Spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos said the compound has separate facilities for men and women. The PNP Custodial Center currently has 25 inmates – including the two former senators – all male.
Personnel from the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA) will be deployed to the Custodial Center to augment De Lima's security force, said Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of De Lima's party, the Liberal Party.
"Hindi rin biro itong mga balita na may sinakal at pinatay sa loob ng PNP. Kahit sino'ng akusado, mababa man o mataas, ay dapat ligtas sa kapahamakan," Pangilinan said, referring to South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo who was strangled to death inside Camp Crame in October last year.
(The fact that someone was strangled to death inside the PNP is no joke. Any suspect, regardless of status, should be free from harm.)
Pangilinan said De Lima has turned over her Senate work to her staff, and has prepared her family for her arrest, but safety remains her primary concern.
"May halong galit, agam-agam. Ang pinaka-concern din niya ay mga anak niya, pamilya niya. 'Yung kanyang seguridad. Si Senator Leila hindi tulad ng high-profile accused dahil marami siyang pinakulong, maraming gustong maghiganti, kaya safety ang kanyang concern," Pangilinan said.
(There's a mix of anger, misgivings. Her main concern is her children, her family. Her security. Senator Leila is not like other high-profile accused because she put a lot of people behind bars. Many want to get back at her, so safety is her concern.)
Malacañang sought to allay De Lima's fears, saying her rights would be protected while she's in police custody. (READ: Palace says De Lima can 'rest her fears' about safety)
Father Robert Reyes, who was also with De Lima during the booking procedures inside Camp Crame, said the CIDG assured the senator that she will be safe inside her cell.
Reyes also said: "If you stand for the truth, if you fight for your convictions, expect persecution. It's just ironic that this is happening before the anniversary of the EDSA Revolution."
Carlos said De Lima was supposed to inspect her detention cell before she was brought to the Muntinlupa court, but she was taken straight to the court instead.
De Lima underwent booking procedures – mugshots, fingerprinting, and medical examination – at the CIDG Headquarters inside Camp Crame on Friday morning.
De Lima has previously said she preferred to be detained at Camp Aguinaldo, the military headquarters, because she didn't trust the PNP. (READ: FULL STATEMENT: Leila de Lima on her arrest)
De Lima has filed a motion to recall the warrant of arrest before Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204, citing the need to hear her pending motions to quash. Judge Juanita Guerrero has reset the hearing of De Lima's motions to March 10, saying that the prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) must file their response first.
"Hocus-pocus ang mga prosesong ito, pero ang posisyon ni (These processes are hocus-pocus but the position of) Senator Leila ay (is) to avail of all legal remedies available," Pangilinan said. – Rappler.com