De Lima appeals Muntinlupa court’s decision over her motion to join Senate online sessions


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed a motion asking the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 to reconsider its earlier decision rejecting her omnibus motion seeking to participate in Senate sessions via teleconferencing from within her place of detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Quezon City.

In her seven-page Motion for Reconsideration filed last June 22, De Lima asked the Muntinlupa court, presided by Judge Liezel Aquitan, to reconsider its June 17 Joint Order which concluded that allowing her to participate in the Senate sessions via teleconferencing “is no different from allowing her to attend there physically.”

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said that she is “utterly at a loss” on the legal basis for the court’s denial of her Omnibus Motion.

“With all due respect, the Honorable Court’s reasoning is neither here nor there in terms of applying the Supreme Court ruling in Trillanes and Jalojos that legislators under detention are expected to have legislative output and perform the functions of their office within the physical limitation imposed upon them by the conditions of their detention,” she noted.

“Substantially, the last word of the Supreme Court on the matter is that so long as the detained legislator is able to perform legislative functions within his or her place of detention, there is nothing in the law that prevents him or her from doing so,” she added.

In denying De Lima’s omnibus motion in the Joint Order dated June 17, Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 also ruled that allowing De Lima to do participate in Senate sessions via teleconferencing “would be tantamount to allowing her to participate even after the state of public health emergency.”

De Lima said she finds the conclusion of the court that allowing her to participate in Senate sessions and committee hearings via teleconferencing is “no different from allowing her to attend there physically” as “most alarming” because the new Senate Rules give her an opportunity “to add to the kind of legislative work she can accomplish while inside her detention cell.”

“Again, it is clear that participation in Senate sessions and committee hearings through teleconferencing by herein Accused does not entail going out of the four corners of her detention cell or the immediate premises of the PNP Custodial Center where she is being detained,” she said.

“Due to the wonders of modern technology and scientific advances, coupled with the Senate Rules that recognize such technology and advances, Senators can now participate in Senate sessions and committee hearings without having to be physically present at the Senate premises,” she added.

It may be recalled that the Philippine Senate amended its rules to allow the attendance of its members via teleconferencing during extraordinary times, such as the quarantine measures in Metro Manila as a response to the pandemic, in a plenary session last May 4.

De Lima maintained that she only wants to avail of the opportunity that is also made available to other Senators during such times that sessions and hearings via teleconferencing are permissible under amended Senate rules.

“Once it is no longer made available to Senators as the Senate will then revert to requiring physical presence in sessions and committee hearings, then herein Accused sees no possibility of how she can further avail of such system,” she said.

“Suffice it to say that if allowed, herein Accused’s participation in sessions and committee hearings via teleconferencing ends when the Senate itself declares that the force majeure or emergency no longer exists, thereby necessitating the physical presence of Senators within the Senate premises to be able to participate in sessions and committee hearings,” she added.

(Copy of the Motion for Reconsideration:


Atty. Fhillip D. Sawali

Chief of Staff, OS De Lima


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