Alvarez mentioned De Lima to prove his point that the Duterte administration was not just focusing on small fry but actually had a big haul in the war against illegal drugs. Alvarez and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III joined Duterte in a news conference in Malacanang Monday afternoon.
"Huwag po tayong maniniwala na hanggang ngayon ay 'yung mga maliliit lang po ang biktima dito sa ginagawa nating [Please don't believe that until now only the small fry are falling in this] war on drugs," he said.
"In fact po nakakulong na po ang number one, public enemy number one -- 'yung number one drug lord sa buong Pilipinas -- ay nakakulong na po, ito ay 'yung dating Senadora natin na si Leila De Lima," he added.
The House leader said De Lima should stop "posturing" that she was being politically persecuted, adding that she was facing charges and was in jail because of crimes committed.
De Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte, is facing drug-related charges.
"Meron po siyang na-commit na crime, which is involving illegal drugs. Iyan po ay krimen -- malinaw po yan na krimen at malinaw po na isa siyang criminal," he said, in reference to allegations by Duterte and his top aides that De Lima as then Justice secretary in the Aquino administration had abetted the rise of the illicit drug industry by dealing with convicted drug lords who kept the trade going even within the national penitentiary.
"She is not a victim of political persecution, because there is none of that now. That is not happening under the President's leadership," Alvarez added, mostly in Filipino.
He said the House of Representatives will remain supportive of the administration's campaign against illegal drugs and criminal activities.
Earlier on Monday, De Lima was arraigned before a Quezon City court on the charge of disobedience to summons - arising from her alleged instruction to her former bodyguard-lover Ronnie Dayan to hide from congressional probes despite subpoenas from a House panel looking into the flourishing of the prison drug trade.
She refused to enter a plea, and one - not guilty - was entered in her behalf by the judge.
On Tuesday (March 14), the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on De Lima's petition seeking to nullify the arrest order issued against her by Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 for drug trading.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay will lead De Lima's legal team in the Oral Arguments. Members of the Free Leila Movement composed of multi-sectoral groups will troop to the Supreme Court to show their support.