Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A Philippine court ordered the arrest on Thursday of Sen. Leila De Lima, a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, on charges of taking bribes from drug traffickers.
Charges filed by the Department of Justice say De Lima took bribes while justice secretary from 2010-15 from convicted drug traffickers imprisoned in the New Bilbid Prison in Muntinlupa, the Philippines' main penitentiary. They state the bribes helped pay for her 2016 Senate campaign and that contributors in the prison received special favors.
De Lima denied the charges, referring to them as political persecution. She is an outspoken critic of Duterte's crackdown on drug dealers and users. Thousands of people are believed to have died in extrajudicial killings through the crackdown, The New York Times reported Thursday.
De Lima was one of 10 senate caucus members who voted earlier this week to continue an investigation of Duterte's alleged involvement in a "death squad" against criminals while he was mayor of Davao City. After the vote, she publicly recommended Duterte's impeachment.
Thursday's arrest order involved three separate criminal cases against De Lima, each demanding that no bail be offered. After spending several hours Thursday in her Senate office, where she is immune from arrest, she said she would return home and await her arrest.
"I have no intention to flee or hide. I will face these charges," she said