Minority senators support De Lima’s ‘legislative furlough’

The Senate Minority Bloc has expressed its unequivocal support to Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s request for temporary furlough so that she can attend to matters of crucial legislation pending in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon led his four other colleagues in filing Senate Resolution No. 391 expressing the sense of the Senate to support De Lima’s request for legislative furlough.

“Senator De Lima is not asking for the privilege of attending all legislative sessions or hearings, but is simply requesting for a modicum of support from the Senate to enable her to properly perform her mandate,” the resolution said.

De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and former justice secretary, is a first-term senator who was received her electoral mandate of 14 million in the last national elections in 2016.

She is presently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City, while awaiting trial over trumped-up charges of illegal drug trade.

“Senator De Lima has not been convicted of any crime and is in full possession of political and civil rights, the exercise of which are only lilmited by the deprivation of her physical liberty,” the resolution added.

Last May 11, De Lima has written to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, requesting for an expression of support from the Senate for her “desire to be occasionally granted furlough by the court in charge of her detention to vote on crucial landmark legislation on a ‘case-to-case’ basis.”

In SR 391, the Senate Minority Bloc cited a number of instances where the Supreme Court granted the request of former senators similarly charged with a non-bailable offense temporary furlough for humanitarian reasons.

It noted that the Sandiganbayan granted temporary furlough to former Senators Ramon Revilla, Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Ejercito Estrada for some important family occasions or personal or health reasons.

It also cited that the Supreme Court has granted temporary liberty to former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile due to his “advanced age, poor health as well as his part and present disposition of respect for the legal process, length of public service and private reputation.”