De Lima Surrenders to Authorities in the Philippines

Amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing drug war, extrajudicial killings and all, it only serves as a embarrassment to the Philippines government that a high profile politician like Senator Leila M. De Lima would become directly involved in a scandal related to the country’s drug industry.

After a series of investigations, Congressional hearings and grandstanding on both sides, presiding Federal Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Regional Trial Court Branch found enough compelling evidence against the Senator and associated witnesses to finally issue a warrant for their arrest this past weekend.

According to Judge Guerrero, “After a careful evaluation of the herein information and all the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation conducted in this case by the Department of Justice, Manila, the Court finds sufficient probable cause for the issuance of Warrants of Arrest against all the accused Leila M. De Lima, Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan.”

Specifically, it is alleged that de Lima took bribes from prisoners in the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) while serving as the Philippines’ Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration. The same charges have been leveled at Rafael Ragos, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer for his involvement with the scandal.

In an interesting twist, de Lima’s former driver and admitted lover Ronnie Dayan, a married man, was also arrested for his part in playing courier between de Lima and the drug trade officials. It was Dayan’s testimony against the Senator that became the driving force behind the investigation.

While surrendering to face charges, de Lima maintains her innocence and claims that her legal woes are a by-product of her leading an investigation against President Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. At this point in time, the country is becoming divided between Duterte supporters and de Lima supporters, who believe the charges set forth amount to nothing more than some type of a witch hunt.