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Outspoken Duterte critic Leila de Lima arrested on 'trumped-up' drug charges

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Two other judges handling the drug cases against De Lima at the Muntinlupa RTC - Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of Branch 205, and Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon of Branch 206 - have yet to issue arrest warrants.

She warned that this set a unsafe precedent for the government to arrest and incarcerate individuals that it perceives as its enemies, on the basis only of mere allegations and without due process.

Chief legal adviser for Duterte, Salvador Panelo, said that de Lima should welcome the "opportunity to refute any and all the allegations and/or evidence" that will be presented in the proceedings against her. Duterte has said that de Lima needs to "face the music".

The charges represent the latest twist in a bloody drug war that President Duterte has pursued since taking office in June, despite the objections of domestic critics like de Lima and worldwide human rights observers.

As the senator was being processed at the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame, her video message was posted on her Facebook page that was apparently recorded on Thursday night. She has been a critic of Duterte for years, leading the Commission on Human Rights when it investigated his drug war in Davao City when he was mayor.

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Around the same time, Duterte began directing sordid comments towards de Lima in public.

Malacañang flatly rejected allegations that De Lima's arrest was a form of political persecution.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto C. Abella called de Lima's arrest "a major step forward in the administration's antidrug war".

Vice President Leni Robredo and other political allies expressed support to de Lima, saying she was being persecuted for criticizing the president.

The prominent lawyer and former justice secretary had spent Thursday night in the Senate building after a judge ordered her arrest on criminal charges filed last week. An additional 3,600 alleged drug dealers and users were reportedly killed by "unidentified gunmen".

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Ms De Lima was nearly immediately demoted from the Senate panel.

De Lima then assisted current Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. earn a Senate seat and fellow future Senator Alan Peter Cayetano beat a lawsuit alleging he was not a Filipino citizen which would disqualify him from office.

She has repeatedly labelled her country's leader as a mass murderer and called for him to be impeached but on Friday (24 February) she found herself detained by officers on drug charges that could see her imprisoned for life.

Pangilinan said De Lima was "composed" after her arrest, but her blood pressure was slightly elevated. She questioned why the court suddenly issued the arrest order, when it was scheduled on Friday to hear her petition to void the three nonbailable charges. She was finally arrested at the Senate on Friday.

Aries Aruguay, associate professor of political science at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, said the senator will use her detention to highlight the president's controversial policies.

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When Duterte won as president in 2016, his feud with de Lima continued.

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