Palace corrects Aquino: De Lima not in jail for political beliefs

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Sen. de Lima's detention in Camp Crame has nothing to do with her political views. File

Palace corrects Aquino: De Lima not in jail for political beliefs
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - March 26, 2018 - 1:59pm
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday reminded former President Benigno Aquino III that Sen. Leila de Lima is in jail because of drug-related charges and not because of her political beliefs.
 
Aquino praised de Lima over the weekend for her leadership and for her convictions in the senator's first electronic book entitled "Dispatches from Crame I." The former president lauded de Lima for "fighting for the Filipino people" and urged the public to support her in her struggle. 
 
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque refuted Aquino's claims, saying de Lima's detention in Camp Crame has nothing to do with her political views. 
 
"With all due respect to the former president, Senator Leila de Lima is not fighting for her principle and was not detained because of her political beliefs," Roque said in a statement. 
 
"The lady senator was arrested and incarcerated because of serious drug charges where she was accused of allowing the illegal drug trade to proliferate inside the National Bilibid Prison when she was the DOJ (Department of Justice) Secretary," he added. 
 
De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on illegal drugs, was arrested last year for allegedly accepting money from convicted drug lords and for giving them special privileges at the New Bilibid Prison.
 
 
Among the witnesses against her are Kerwin Espinosa, who confessed and later recanted his supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade.
 
The Department of Justice has overturned a previous decision to dismiss a drug case against Espinosa, businessman Peter Lim and other alleged "high-profile" drug lords in the face of outrage from the public and from President Duterte himself. 
 
De Lima has denied the allegation and has accused the Duterte administration of persecuting her for opposing its policies. She has yet to be arraigned on the charges. 
 
In 2016, Duterte promised to "destroy" de Lima after she called for a Senate investigation on the deaths tied to his war on illegal drugs. He then revealed that de Lima had an illicit affair with her married driver Ronnie Dayan, whom he accused of having ties with drug lords.
 
The president had also claimed that illegal drugs trade flourished at the NBP while de Lima was Justice secretary. 
 
De Lima has admitted to having a romantic affair with Dayan but denied involvement in the trafficking of illicit drugs.

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