De Lima presses SC to let her argue ICC petition in court
Senator Leila De Lima has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider its decision denying her request to participate in the August 28 oral argument on the petition of senators seeking to nullify the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In her motion for reconsideration, the detained legislator said she is not asking for temporary liberty or bail but a mere travel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City to the session hall of the SC in Pade Faura, Manila and then back, depending on the duration of the oral argument.
Last August 7, the high court denied De Lima’s request, saying her capacity to appear for herself must yield to the fundamental restrictions on her liberty borne by her current detention.
The minority senators wanted De Lima to argue on their behalf given her knowledge on the matter. Their desire was articulated to the SC thru a manifestation signed by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV.
But the high court said there are other members of the minority who are equally skillful and competent in arguing their case, specifically mentioning Drilon and Pangilinan.
De Lima however said that to require a special and exclusive competence of a lawyer in good standing to appear for herself is “just plain irrelevant and has no basis whether in the Rules of Court or in law.”
While the Senator admitted that she has no claim of exclusive competence on the ICC issue, she said she held positions that made her competent to argue on behalf of the minority senator’s petition.
Among the positions she mentioned was her being a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights as well as former Justice Secretary, who represented the government in various treaty commitments and issued warnings on possible repercussions that the Philippines could face if the country would withdraw from ICC.
“Except for the fact of her incarceration, there would be no reason at all why she wouuld not be one of the ideal choices who can argue the case before the Court,” the motion noted.
Citing the dissenting opinion of acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio, De Lima said consideration for detention prisoners held for non-bailable offenses has been granted for less compelling reasons such as extended Christmas, New Year holidays with loved ones in their homes and a grant of bail due to old age regardless of evidence of guilt.
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