As Senator Leila de Lima marked her fourth year in jail, senators on Wednesday filed a resolution seeking to allow her participation in the chamber’s plenary sessions and committee hearings virtually.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan filed Resolution 658 pointing out that despite being detained, the solon should still be given the privilege to attend Senate sessions and hearings as a member of the 18th Congress.
Citing the June 2008 Supreme Court (SC) ruling on former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the lawmakers said that “there is nothing that prohibits detained legislators from performing their duties as long as they are done within the confines of their detention centers”.
“In Trillanes v Judge Pimentel (G.R. 179817, 27 June 2008), the SC ruled the limitation on the practice of the profession and the holding of office, elective or appointive, in detention must be taken into account only to the extent that confinement restraints the power of locomotion, or actual physical movement,” the resolution reads.
“In 2010, the Senate adopted Resolution 7 and concurred with the opinion of the Senate Legal Counsel that the collective wisdom and judgment of the Senate is greatly diminished, if not impaired, even if only one seat in the Senate is made unnecessarily vacant,” it added.
De Lima’s participation, the senators said, is possible given that the existing facilities within Camp Crame allow her to attend her court hearings via remote access.
The chamber has been conducting plenary sessions and committee hearings through teleconference and video conference following the adoption of Resolution 43 which amended Sections 22 and 41 of the Rules of the Senate.
The detained senator, who maintained her innocence, was jailed on 24 February 2017 after she was accused of abetting illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison while serving as Justice secretary from 2010 to 2015.
A Muntinlupa court has recently dismissed the first of three drug charges she is facing.