De Lima loses bid to join Senate sessions via online
MANILA, Philippines — A Muntinlupa court has rejected Senator Leila de Lima’s motion seeking to allow her to participate in Senate sessions through teleconferencing from her cell in Camp Crame.
In a joint order dated June 17 on the omnibus motion filed by De Lima through her lawyers, the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 205 said that allowing the senator to join official proceedings in the Senate within her place of detention through online “is no different from allowing her to attend there physically.”
“Allowing her to do so today would be tantamount to allowing her to participate even after the state of public health emergency,” the court said.
The Senate had shifted to “hybrid” plenary sessions and committee hearings as the coronavirus pandemic triggered restrictions in Metro Manila and other parts of the country.
De Lima had “argued that she is not a convicted prisoner, that she continues to enjoy the presumption of innocence, that she has no civil interdiction, and that she fully possessed all her civil and political rights, including the right to perform the mandate given to her by the Filipino people.”
However, the trial court concluded that the presumption of innocence “does not carry with it the full enjoyment of civil and political rights.”
In a written dispatch from Camp Crame, De Lima expressed dismay over the court’s decision.
“With all due respect to the Honorable Court, allowing my online participation in the Senate sessions will not negate the fact that I am still in prison. What the court permission can do however, is to pay full respect to the mandate that I received from the Filipino people as a sitting Senator,” she said.
“Please note that there is no civil interdiction imposed on me by any court, thus, there should be no unreasonable restrictions on my rights and legitimate interests,” he added.
The senator, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, has been detained since February 2017 over what she repeatedly called as “trumped-up” drug-related charges against her.
According to De Lima’s camp, the senator “intends to file a motion for reconsideration with the same judge, hoping that the court will take a second look at the legal merits of her position.”
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