Withdrawal from parliamentary union may be an 'extreme step' - Pimentel

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2018 05:55 PM | Updated as of Oct 23 2018 06:40 PM

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MANILA - Withdrawing from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly may be an extreme step to take, even as there was "overreach" by the body in dealing with Philippine legislators, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III said Tuesday.

"I think we should talk about it, we should keep an open mind," Pimentel, president of the President Rodrigo Duterte's PDP-Laban party and formerly the Senate president, said.

"Maybe withdrawal is such an extreme step to take, but maybe some official protest from the Senate as a member," he told ANC's Headstart.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged the Senate to leave the international community of lawmakers because it has tried to interfere with the country's judicial process twice.

Arroyo headed the Philippine delegation to the 139th IPU Assembly.

The IPU earlier said it would send an official mission to the country, an "urgent follow-up visit by the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians," to look into the supposed political persecution of opposition senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Pimentel believes "there is overreach by the IPU and refusal to understand," revealing as well that he has appeared before the panel but "they were already close-minded."

"The Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians is doing its job. But part of its job is investigating and listening not only to the complainant, but to the other side. You should seriously listen," he said.

"They’re so obsessed with protecting the rights of their fellow parliamentarians. That’s a good attitude, but another good attitude is to be open-minded and to be objective. After hearing the explanation, then you adjust," he added.

The committee wanted to demand the release of De Lima, who has been detained on drug charges since February 2017, but Pimentel said he argued that this "already reached the Philippine Supreme Court."

"The Philippine Supreme Court did not order her release; you should respect that because who among you has read the case folder? When the cases were reviewed by the Supreme Court justices, they went over the folders so they know better the situation," he said.

Apart from De Lima, the IPU also said that the "sudden" questioning of Trillanes' amnesty "give[s] serious weight to the allegation that this is a targeted attempt to silence."

Duterte withdrew the senator's amnesty for allegedly failing to submit an application form and express guilt over the Oakwood mutiny and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2003 and 2007, respectively.

The lawmaker was ordered arrested by a Makati court over the rebellion charge, but another court dismissed the government's plea for his arrest over coup d'état.