Bishop: De Lima should attend Senate debates via teleconferencing
MANILA, Philippines — Disallowing detained senator Leila de Lima to join Senate debates via teleconferencing will give “injustice” to those who voted for her during the 2016 elections, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said Wednesday.
Pabillo said Senate Resolution No. 51 jointly filed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson “makes sense.”
According to Pabillo, by approving the said resolution, De Lima would be able to fully perform her duties as a lawmaker.
“The resolution makes sense. Leila De Lima is an incumbent senator and she was elected by 14.1 million Filipino citizens. The people has given her this mandate. It is an injustice to the people not to respect their will, especially now that this can be done through modern ways of communication,” Pabillo said in a Facebook post.
“She may be behind bars but she has not been convicted on the charges levelled against her. Through modern technology, by video conferencing, she can perform her duty in participating in the discussions during plenary sessions even remotely,” he added.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade
In their resolution, Drilon and Lacson argued that while the case of De Lima is still on trial, she is still “entitled to enjoy her constitutional rights, such as the right to be presumed innocent, as well as her full civil and political rights.”
Pabillo said the administration should allow De Lima to participate in preliminary proceedings even on remote work as part of the democratic space.
“If ordinary workers can now work from home, thanks of the Telecommuting Law which Duterte signed into law last December, then Senator de Lima can certainly do it from her prison cell,” Pabillo said.
“The good senator is doing her work as an elected official from her cell, crafting laws and commenting on pieces of legislations and sending them to the Senate. This is tedious but she does it. Her participation in the deliberations on the senate floor itself can be further enhanced by being there in the plenary sessions, though remotely,” he added.
The resolution filed by two lawmakers then received criticisms from other senators such as Bong Revilla and Bato Dela Rosa.
According to Revilla, allowing De Lima to join Senate debates would give the impression that the administration is giving her a “special treatment.”
While Dela Rosa did not fully oppose or support the resolution, he called for equal treatment for other detained government officials..
With these, Pabillo said he hopes that the administration and some senators are not opposing the resolution filed only because they fear De Lima.
“I hope it is not the fear of the administration – and the other senators – of her fiery character and independent ideas that is keeping her from the participation in the floor of the senate,” he said. /muf
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