Roque says no regrets wishing De Lima a lifetime in jail


Posted at Nov 16 2023 03:05 PM

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MANILA — Atty. Harry Roque, the former spokesman of former President Rodrigo Duterte, on Thursday said he had no regrets about wishing ex-senator Leila de Lima a lifetime in incarceration.

The two had exchanged criticisms over policies during the Duterte administration, particularly on the government's war on drugs, which De Lima investigated in the Senate. 

De Lima in 2017 was detained over alleged illegal drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary under the Benigno Aquino administration. She insists the charges were meant to silence her criticism against Duterte.

At one point, Roque told De Lima, "Happy anniversary on your first year of detention. May you spend the rest of your life in jail."

When asked if he regretted the statement, especially now that De Lima could be acquitted in her third and last drug case, Roque said, "No… Because I heard the testimonies of the witnesses against her, and I am convinced as a lawyer [with] 32 years of experience that they were telling the truth."

"I certainly regret that the witnesses recanted their testimonies because when I personally interviewed the witnesses against her, I was convinced that she was part of large-scale drug trafficking," he told ANC.

Aside from De Lima, her co-accused former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, her former aides Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez, and Jad Dera, were allowed to post bail.

In a 69-page ruling granting bail, Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Gener Gito said the testimonies of the prosecution's 9 witnesses "were not able to clearly establish that there exists a conspiracy among them to commit illegal drug trading."

Gito reversed Judge Romeo Buenaventura's previous denial of De Lima’s bail petition.