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Duterte administration wishes De Lima well, says new presidential spokesperson

Newly appointed presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the release of Senator Leila de Lima is up to the court and that the administration wishes her well in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

When Roque was asked whether De Lima will be released soon, he replied, "That's up to the courts."

"We have a working judicial system in the Philippines, very much patterned after the American system. We could fault the Philippines for many things, but what we are proud of is an independent and strong judiciary," he said.

When pressed for his "gut feeling" on De Lima's release, Roque pointed to De Lima's inaction on "problems" she faced when she was Justice Secretary.

"Senator Leila de Lima was Justice Secretary for six years, head of the Human Rights Commission for three, she knew there was a problem in the legal system," he said.

"Unfortunately, she did not do anything to alleviate the problem. And she is now basically suffering the price of ignoring the need to institute necessary reform in the judiciary. So, I wish her well, the administration wishes her well. But she has to be treated like anyone else," he added.

Last week, De Lima asked the Supreme Court to reverse its decision affirming her arrest for one of her three drug-related charges stemming from the proliferation of narcotics business inside the New Bilibid Prison during her term as Justice secretary.

On October, the high court junked the senator's plea to nullify the arrest order issued by Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 on February 23 for the case of illegal drug trading.

The SC dismissed De Lima’s argument that the Sandiganbayan, not the criminal courts, had the right to try and resolve her case.

De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

She is also facing separate drug trading cases at the Muntinlupa RTC branches 205 and 206. — BAP, GMA News