Pimentel hits int’l legislators group: You don’t understand our Constitution
Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III expressed regret on Thursday over the “unfortunate” lack of understanding by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of the Philippine Constitution.
Apparently reacting to IPU’s call for the Philippine Senate “to act in solidarity” with detained Senator Leila de Lima, Pimentel also warned the international organization against “insulting” the country’s sovereignty.
In a text message to INQUIRER.net, Pimentel lamented the organization’s stand, saying: “It’s unfortunate that the IPU doesn’t understand the Philippine Constitution.”
“That’s their problem not ours,” he also said.
The Senate President explained that in some countries, their parliamentarians have immunity from arrest and which only the parliament can waive. He, however, pointed out that the Philippines does not have the same rule.
“If they insist that we observe their rules then they are insulting us and not respecting our sovereignty to determine our own rules. Our basic rules can be found in our Constitution,” he noted.
“(Senator) De Lima has a battery of seasoned and well known lawyers. Let them work on her release and her opportunity to attend Senate sessions. Remember that she is facing drug charges. Keep the Senate out of the drug or corruption cases of its current or former members,” he added.
According to Pimentel, even when the IPU was informed of the Supreme Court decision not to set De Lima free, the IPU disagreed and insisted on its stance.
“Why does the IPU feel that they know Sen. de Lima’s case better than our Supreme Court and other courts which have heard and studied her case(s) up to the minutest detail?” the Senate leader asked.
In a resolution, the IPU urged the Philippine Senate to take steps in ensuring De Lima fulfill her duties as a duly-elected lawmaker by letting her participate in Senate deliberations.
“[The IPU] considers that the Senate has a special responsibility to help ensure that its colleagues participate in its deliberations and to speak out when they face reprisals for their work,” the IPU resolution stated.
“[It] regrets therefore that the Senate has not been able to take a firm stance in favor of Senator de Lima’s direct participation in the Senate’s most important work,” it added.
The IPU adopted the resolution on Thursday, as it closed its 138th Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.
De Lima has been locked up in jail since February 2017 for drug-related charges, which she has repeatedly denied. She claimed those charges were trumped-up and politically motivated. /kga
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