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Timeline: Duterte vs De Lima’s duel over drugs, deaths

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Leila de Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

Senator Leila de Lima, arrested Friday on drug trafficking charges, has waged a decade-long crusade to expose President Rodrigo Duterte as the leader of death squads that have killed thousands of people.

She insists Duterte’s government has manufactured the charges to silence her investigations into the killings allegedly orchestrated by Duterte during his time as mayor of Davao city, then for the past eight months as president.

Here are key moments in the battle between De Lima and Duterte:

March 2009

De Lima, then head of the government’s Commission on Human Rights, flies to Davao and begins a public inquiry into the alleged death squads.

“I am bothered by statements attributed to him (Duterte)… which tend to condone this phenomenon of illegal or vigilante-style killings,” De Lima says at the inquiry.

READ: Duterte ordered De Lima ambush in 2009, says witness

Duterte responds: “If there is an iota of evidence that we are involved in the killings, I will submit to you, at the end of the day, my resignation as city mayor.”

June 2012

The commission, after De Lima has stepped down to become justice secretary, finds that “there was a systematic practice of extrajudicial killings” in Davao.

De Lima orders the National Bureau of Investigation, which is part of her justice department, to launch a probe into the alleged death squads.

May 2016

Duterte is elected president after pledging during the campaign to kill 100,000 criminals. De Lima separately wins a seat in the Senate.

Days after the election, the justice ministry announces it has closed its investigation into the death squads because the last witness had fled a safe house run by the ministry’s witness protection program.

August 2016

Duterte accuses De Lima of running a drug trafficking ring with criminals inside the nation’s biggest prison to help fund her Senate election campaign.

De Lima, as head of the Senate justice and human rights committee, launches public hearings on alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug war. A self-declared Davao Death Squad assassin testifies that he and others killed about 1,000 people from 1998-2013 on Duterte’s orders. Duterte allies in the Senate depose De Lima as committee head days later.

READ: De Lima ousted as chair of panel

September 2016

Several gang leaders at the country’s main prison testify at the House of Representatives and repeat Duterte’s allegations that De Lima and her driver-bodyguard engaged in drugs trafficking.

December 2016

The Senate drug war inquiry, now chaired by a Duterte ally, concludes the president and the state are not responsible for extrajudicial killings.

February 17, 2017

The justice department files drug trafficking charges against De Lima. Four days later she brands Duterte a “serial killer” and calls for people to show courage and oppose him.

February 24, 2017

De Lima is arrested.

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