AFTER two years on the run, one of Senator Leila M. De Lima’s co-accused on an illegal drug charge was captured on Friday by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) but claimed he was a police asset during the occurrence of the alleged crimes.

Joe Adrian T. Dera, who is also known as “Jad De Vera,” was arrested early Friday morning in Pampanga after remaining at large for two years. Mr. Dera did not surrender to authorities after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 issued a warrant of arrest for him back in 2017 for violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“He is the only co-accused in the drug case filed against Senator Leila de Lima na hindi pa naaresto (who was not arrested yet),” NBI-Special Task Force (STF) Chief Gerald V. Geralde said during a briefing on Friday.

The NBI also denied that Mr. Dera is related to Ms. De Lima, after earlier reports said that he is the nephew of the detained senator.

“Wala kami na-gather na kamag anak siya (We did not gather any information that shows he is a relative),” said NBI Deputy Director Vicente de Guzman III during the same briefing.

NBI Director Ferdinand M. Lavin also dismissed Mr. Dera’s claims was working with the Philippine National Police (PNP) during at the time that the alleged offense by Ms. De Lima, who was then Secretary of the Department of Justice, happened.

“That’s what he claims but we cannot dwell on that, but as far as the investigation is concerned, it was testified that he has delivered these monies to then (Justice) Secretary De Lima,” he said

Mr. Dera’s legal counsel Raymond Lapad said that his client was really a police asset of the PNP and some of their evidence of this are documents that show his involvement with the PNP at the time.

“Ang position niya (his position) is that he was appointed as alpha or asset or agent by the PNP last Feb. 16. At that time I think De Lima was not anymore the secretary of justice, and we have the papers submitted to the DoJ and NBI confirming that fact that he was an agent, and there was an agreement and there was an oath of loyalty to comply with his duties to the PNP,” he said. — Gillian M. Cortez