Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque and Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday said it respects the right of detained Senator Leila de Lima to seek reelection in the 2022 national elections.

“Kung tatakbo po siya, that’s her right, hanggang hindi pa siya convicted with finality. Sana hindi siya ma-convict with finality bago dumating ang eleksyon (If she will run, that’s her right, so long as she is not convicted with finality. I hope she will not be convicted with finality before the elections),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an online press briefing.

Roque was reacting to De Lima’s plan to seek reelection next year and make President Rodrigo Duterte accountable for his supposed wrongdoings during his six-year term.

De Lima, in an open letter addressed to Duterte ahead of his sixth and final State of the Nation Address on July 26, said her unjust detention for the past four years has only “strengthened her resolve to fight her advocacies”.

Despite her alleged “political persecution,” De Lima said she would “not give up”.

However, Roque said De Lima is not a victim of political persecution. He said De Lima is being tried not because of “politically-related crimes.”

“Unang-una, wala pong (First and foremost, there is no) political prosecution. Alam naman ni Leila De Lima bilang abogado (Leila de Lima, as a lawyer, knows) that she is not accused of politically related crimes. Akusado po siya (She is accused) because of the heinous crime of drug trading, drug pushing and drug trading,” he said.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017.

She is facing drug-related charges for her alleged role in drug proliferation inside the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary. (PNA)