Drilon, Lacson seek to allow De Lima to join Senate debates

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 04 2019 09:34 AM | Updated as of Aug 04 2019 02:19 PM

MANILA -- (UPDATE) Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have filed a resolution seeking to allow detained Sen. Leila de Lima to participate in the chamber's plenary sessions through teleconferencing.

Under Senate Resolution No. 51, the two senators said De Lima has a "mandate to participate in the lawmaking process and deliberations of proposed legislation."

"Her absence unduly deprives the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her their proper representation in the Senate," they said.

De Lima could interpellate but could not vote due to the Senate rule that states a lawmaker must be physically present in able to cast a vote.

"Pero at least makaka-contribute siya para pagyamanin pa 'yung mga panukalang batas kung ia-adopt iyong aming resolution," Lacson told radio DWIZ.

(At least she can contribute to enhance proposed measures if our resolution is adopted.)

He said he proposed the arrangement since the Senate has previously procured equipment for teleconferencing during the time of former Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who was detained during his first term as senator.

"Sabi ko nandyan lang, idle, pwede natin ituloy. Tsaka kung noon napagkasunduan natin, panahon 'yun ni Senate President (Juan Ponce) Enrile, kung saan pinayagan namin mag-teleconference si Sen. Trillanes," he said.

(I said the equipment is idle, we can continue to use it. If we agreed during Senate President Enrile's time to let Trillanes participate through teleconferencing.)

Lacson said he has discussed the matter with Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto, who said De Lima should join the chamber's debates.

"Bago naman ako nag-co-author, tinake-up ko muna kay Senate President. Sabi niya by all means, kung sinusuwelduhan siya ng gobyerno marapat lamang na pasalihin natin siya sa mga pinaguusapan dito sa Senado," he said.

(Before I co-authored, I took it up with the Senate President. He said, by all means, if the government gives her a salary, we should let her join discussions here at the Senate.)

The senator said the arrangement would not violate any court or police rules on De Lima's detention.

"Wala naman sigurong security considerations na dapat tingnan ang PNP kasi 'di naman siya aalis ng kaniyang selda, magse-set up lang ng facilities doon," he said.

(I don't think there are security considerations the PNP should look into since she won't be leaving her cell, we will just set up facilities there.)

In a statement Sunday, De Lima welcomed her colleagues' proposal.

“Great news! Answered prayers. I’ve been longing to be given such privilege so I can more meaningfully fulfill my mandate,” she said.

“I thank, wholeheartedly, the Minority Leader Sen. Drilon and Sen. Lacson for such an initiative. Sana po suportahan ng aming mga colleagues. A blessed Sunday."

De Lima, a fierce critic of the administration's bloody anti-narcotics campaign, has been detained since February 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords at the national penitentiary when she was still justice secretary. She denied wrongdoing.