Senator Leila de Lima is using the media to propagate “lies” about her detention, Malacañang said on Saturday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement upon learning that de Lima would release an updated roster of individuals who supposedly had a hand in her arrest.
In an interview with CNN Philippines on Thursday, de Lima’s lawyer, Fhillip Sawali, said his client will come up with a “more comprehensive” and more detailed” list of Philippine officials and personalities who are allegedly responsible for her “wrongful” detention.
Panelo maintained that de Lima was not politically persecuted.
“She is just using you people (from the media) to become relevant while in detention. Kayo naman pinapatulan ninyo kaya happy na happy siya (And you are writing articles about her that’s why she’s enjoying it),” Panelo said in a text message.
“As far we are concerned, she is an irrelevant political entity,” he added.
A provision of the United States’ (US) 2020 budget earlier signed by American President Donald Trump authorizes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to bar Philippine government officials involved in de Lima’s “wrongful detention” from entering Washington.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 2017 due to her supposed role in the rampant narcotics trade inside the national penitentiary during her stint as Justice secretary.
De Lima earlier released an initial list of personalities who she believed are behind her arrest.
The roster includes President Rodrigo Duterte, Panelo, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Solicitor General Jose Calida, and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Dante Jimenez, among others.
Panelo merely dismissed de Lima’s claim as “nonsense.”
He said the senator should instead include herself, as well as Duterte’s another staunch critic, former senator Antonio Trillanes III, on the list she wanted to be banned from visiting the US.
“She already said she would include (the President), but if I were you, you should ignore her nonsense,” Panelo said.
“She should put (herself) on the top list plus Trillanes and others who have been peddling lies to the outside world,” he added.
On Dec. 26 last year, Panelo said Duterte was unbothered by the US’ move to deny entry to de Lima’s alleged jailers.
A day after, the Palace official warned that the Duterte government might be forced to impose a visa application for all US citizens, in case Washington bans the Filipino officials linked to de Lima’s arrest.
The President has also barred US Senators Richard Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Edward Markey for supporting the call to immediately release de Lima.
Panelo said any form of pressure by other states that is tantamount to interference in the Philippines’ established justice system “shall be reciprocated in accordance with our municipal law, as well as public international law or the law of the nations.” (PNA)