Jailed Senator Leila de Lima’s co-accused was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) today in Pampanga, ending a manhunt that started two years ago when he first went into hiding.
Jose Adrian Dera, who allegedly extorted millions of pesos from convicts on behalf of de Lima, was arrested early this morning from his house in Angeles City, reported ABS-CBN News.
He was arrested by a special task force led by NBI officer Gerald Geraldo, reported The Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Department of Justice has identified Dera as the senator’s nephew, but de Lima has previously denied they are related.
“He is not a nephew or a relative of mine of any degree. He has not worked for me as an aide or in any capacity,” the senator said in a statement released in 2017.
Dera is facing two charges. In one case, he allegedly extorted PHP70 million (US$1.33 million) from several inmates in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa from May 2013 to May 2015. This amount was allegedly pocketed by Senator De Lima and then-Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, reported Rappler.
In the second case, Dera allegedly extorted PHP30 million (US$572,275) and four vehicles from Bilibid inmate and former drug lord Peter Co in March 2016. De Lima was also the alleged recipient of the vehicles and the cash, reported Rappler. De Lima has denied all allegations.
Dera has been brought by the NBI to their headquarters in Ermita, Manila. If convicted, he might be sentenced to life imprisonment.
A high-profile nemesis of President Rodrigo Duterte, de Lima has been in jail for these drug-related charges since February 2017. International organization Human Rights Watch has said the charges against her are politically motivated due to her outspoken criticism of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs that has killed thousands of Filipinos.