Sen. Leila M. de Lima has called on the Senate leadership to allow her to actively participate in the deliberations of important legislative measures as well as to attend other official functions in the Senate even through remote or electronic means.
De Lima made the call as the Senate resumes its sessions today. She is currently facing drug charges and is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“For more than two months since I was illegally jailed on sham charges, I have refused to allow political persecution and harassment I suffer under the hands of the present administration to prevent me from fulfilling my electoral mandate,” said De Lima in a statement.
De Lima said she is hoping she could join her colleagues in the deliberations on the proposed revival of the death penalty, lowering the criminal age responsibility, and the postponement of barangay elections, among others.
“I have work to do as a senator and I will continue to do so because I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and represent them in the Senate. I hope I can participate in important debates in the Senate,” said the staunchest critic of the Duterte administration.
De Lima has filed resolutions and bills even while in detention. She also remains the chairperson of the Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee.
The lawmaker said her camp is now studying all legal options for her to be allowed to attend Senate sessions. She pointed out there were already detained senators in the past who were permitted to attend their legislative duties, including participation in Senate proceedings, pending the resolution of the cases filed against them.
She recalled that in 2008, the Senate, then under the leadership of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., allowed then detained Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in Senate proceedings through teleconferencing.
She also said that former Sen. Justiniano Montano was allowed to perform his senatorial duties during the 1950s even when he was facing a non-bailable offense of multiple murders and was allowed to post bail.
“Apart from my rights as a duly-elected senator, I have to invoke my rights as a political prisoner as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights,” she stressed. (Hannah L. Torregoza)