Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque had some strong, choice words for detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday.
He was reacting to de Lima statement that said Roque “sold his own identity in exchange for a possible Senate run.”
“As I said, happy anniversary on your first year of detention. May you spend the rest of your life in jail. Good night. Goodbye. So that is my reaction,” Roque said before dropping the microphone in a news briefing.
Last Saturday, Roque “greeted” de Lima “happy anniversary” on the first year of her incarceration for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons, the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
In the same statement on Saturday, he said de Lima’s incarceration shows that the criminal justice system in the country is “alive, effective and working.”
“Senator De Lima has been detained because of drug charges. She is the mother of all drug lords by allowing the illegal drug trade to proliferate inside the National Bilibid Prisons when she was the Department of Justice [DoJ] secretary,” according to Roque.
In a statement released on Tuesday, de Lima slammed the Palace spokesman, saying Roque sold his credibility as leverage for his quest for a bigger political seat.
“Mr. Roque, I understand, aspires to one day call himself a senator. There is nothing wrong with that per se. But just because he has bartered his dignity and reputation as a human rights lawyer, in exchange for a senatorial berth in the President’s party, it doesn’t mean that everyone is willing to go down that path,” she said.
De Lima downplayed the “kind, upstanding and definitely un-petty” greeting of Roque, saying while Malacanang is indeed “happy” to see her suffer, she does not feel sorry for herself.
One of the Duterte administration’s most vocal critics, she said she knows she is behind bars because she stood for what is right.
“The plain truth is I am under detention, not because I am the ‘mother of all drug lords,’ but because Duterte feared being held accountable for the bloodshed he had brought down with his war on drugs, and he–and his allies who have been at the wrong end of a DoJ investigation while I was DoJ secretary—have been frothing at the mouth to get even,” de Lima noted.
“So, Mr. Roque may pretend all he wants that he speaks truths–but that is all it is: a pretense. Slowly, eventually, inevitably, the truth will set me free. But it will shackle Roque and his cohorts in shame. I am innocent. They are not,” she said.