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De Lima seeks furlough to vote for Senate bills

Senator Leila De Lima. INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Senator Leila De Lima  INQUIRER PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is asking Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III to back her bid to seek occasional furlough so she could cast her vote in crucial landmark legislation.

“The minimum that I request is an expression of support for my desire to be occasionally granted furlough by the court in charge of my detention, for purposes of voting on crucial landmark legislation, on a case-to-case basis,” she said in a letter to Pimentel dated May 11, which was released to the media by her office on Sunday.

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De Lima said this was the only available recourse for her since the Supreme Court had earlier ruled against detained lawmakers being given the privilege of attending all legislative sessions or hearings or being placed under the custody of Congress.

De Lima is currently detained inside a Philippine National Police facility in Camp Crame, Quezon City, as she awaits trial for drug-related cases she said were trumped-up charges brought against her by the Duterte administration.

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In her three-page letter, she told Pimentel she was seeking the Senate’s help, saying she had “not yet been stripped of my office, and no penalty has yet been imposed on me.”

“At present, I am a mere detention prisoner in full possession of political and civil rights, the exercise of which are limited only by the deprivation of my physical liberty, but not by the deprivation of rights which by law have not yet been denied me,” De Lima said.

The senator noted that detained prisoners in recent elections had been allowed by the Commission on Elections to register as voters and vote in municipal and city jails.

She said this could be applied in her case as she was not yet convicted and had the mandate of 14 million Filipinos who voted for her in the May 2016 polls as one of the Senate representatives.

“My right to vote, therefore, can be given effect by the mere expediency of supporting my request for occasional furloughs in order to attend Senate sessions and to cast my vote on crucial landmark legislation,” De Lima said.

She said she did not think this was too much to ask the Senate since the request for a leave of absence was not merely to go to a birthday party or other personal functions “but to attend to matters of legislation and sovereign representation.”

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TAGS: Leila de Lima, Philippine news updates, Senate, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III
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