September 24, 2017

The Senate minority bloc has urged the Senate leadership to urgently appeal to the court to allow Sen. Leila M. De Lima to attend to her legislative duties, including participation in the deliberations of crucial legislations, pending the resolution of the charges levelled against her.

In a Senate Resolution 505, opposition Senators Franklin Drilon (Liberal, Senate Minority Leader), Bam Aquino (Liberal), Risa Hontiveros (Akbayan), Francis Pangilinan (Partido Liberal president), and Antonio Trillanes IV (Magdalo) maintained that De Lima is not a “flight risk” because she has willingly and voluntarily surrendered herself to proper authorities when warrant for her arrest was served more than six months ago.

“In the exercise of the Senate’s constitutional mandate to serve the people, it is in the best interest of the institution to allow Senator De Lima to continue her legislative duties pending the trial of her cases,” the resolution said.

De Lima, considered by many as the first political prisoner under the Duterte administration, has been slapped by the government with three charges of illegal drug trade based on false evidence and fabricated testimonies by convicted criminals.

Although she could not actively participate in plenary deliberations on important measures, she has continued to file bills and resolutions despite being detained at the Philippine National Police-Custodial Center, in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

To date, De Lima has filed 55 bills and 55 resolutions in the Senate.

As a political prisoner, the Senator from Bicol has invoked her rights as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

The minority bloc in the Senate also explained that the Upper Chamber could very well take De Lima’s custody and guarantee that she would be present whenever her presence may be required by the court or any other proper authorities at any given time.

“By allowing Senator De Lima to continue performing her duties as a Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, we are heeding to the call of the overwhelming mandate of the electorate who wants Senator De Lima to represent them,” they said.

In the past, they noted, there have been cases such as those when then Senators Justiniano Montano and Juan Ponce Enrile were allowed to post bail and perform their senatorial duties despite criminal cases against them.

In the 1950s, then Senator Montano was charged with multiple murders, a non-bailable offense, but was allowed to post bail and perform his senatorial duties. Enrile was also allowed to post bail in the plunder cases against him and served the remaining years of his term which expired in June 2016.

“The experience of a detained legislator being allowed to continue performing his/her duties is not new in Philippine politics,” they said.