VICE President Leni Robredo on Friday called the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima as the latest move in a persistent campaign of political harassment being waged against a duly elected member of Congress.

De Lima was arrest Friday morning after a Muntinlupa court issued a warrant last Thursday. She is facing three drug cases in court.

Robredo described the charges against De Lima as a smear campaign to destroy the persona of the senator.

"These efforts to smear Senator De Lima are a strong indication that the charges against her arise from a political agenda and are not the result of an independent, unbiased legal process. These efforts began soon after she launched an investigation into the issue of extra judicial killings under the present administration," Robredo said.

Robredo said the contradicting testimonies from high-profile criminals used as basis of the case have circumvented due process in order to fast track the issuance of the arrest warrant.

The Vice President insisted the country is under a democracy and that there is need to hear the side of de Lima.

"We believe that those who are accused of any crime must have their day in court, and have the right to a fair and unbiased trial," Robredo said.

Robredo, who said that the country’s democracy is still very young, explained that our history as a nation is marred by instances where government officials use the processes of criminal justice to cow, silence, and eliminate critics.

"We cannot, and we must not, stand by and let this happen again. We must make sure that our government institutions remain uncorrupted and independent of each other, particularly when it comes to checks and balances in pursuit of accountability," Robredo said.

Robredo asked the Filipino people to follow and scrutinize this case religiously.

"Let us fight for the right to speak dissent, which is the foundation of our strength as a free and democratic nation," she said. (SunStar Philippines)