Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima expressed dismay over the rejection by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 204 of her very urgent motion seeking to allow participation in the Commission on Election’s (COMELEC) e-rally on Feb. 26.
De Lima, who is seeking reelection, said disallowing her from taking part in the e-rally stripped her off of her right to communicate her platform to the Filipino public.
“I wasn’t asking for special treatment, hence, did not ask for permission to leave the premises of the PNP Custodial Center. Still, the court junked my motion to allow participation in COMELEC’s e-rally through videoconferencing,” she said.
“Given my situation, I just wanted to avail of this opportunity to freely communicate my platform to the Filipino electorate,” she added.
Last Feb. 22, De Lima filed a Very Urgent Motion requesting that she be allowed to participate via videoconference call in the scheduled e-rally on Feb. 26, from 6 o’clock to 9:30 in the evening, as organized and provided for by the COMELEC. Feb. 26 is the first scheduled date of a series of e-rallies supposedly to be participated in by candidate De Lima. The e-rallies are being held by batches.
Her request hinges on“provisions of law protecting a bona fide candidate’s right, during the election period, to be free from any form of harassment and discrimination, and to the “equal opportunity for public service, including access to media time and space, and the equitable right to reply, for public information campaigns and fora among candidates.”
In an Order dated Feb. 25, the Muntinlupa RTC, Branch 204 denied De Lima’s motion for the main reason that De Lima, on account of her current detention, cannot be accorded the same treatment given to other candidates.
De Lima maintained that the foregoing e-rallies “are in accordance with the mandate of the COMELEC to ensure the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections through fair election practices under Republic Act No. 9006, including through the provision of COMELEC Space and Time.”
“As a bona fide and serious candidate, I just want to avail of every reasonable and lawful means under prevailing election laws and COMELEC rules and regulations to promote my re-election bid, as to compensate for my physical handicaps as a Person Deprived of Liberty (PDL). I therefore don’t understand the further curtailment of my rights.”
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, marked her fifth year in unjust detention last Feb. 24. De Lima has consistently and firmly asserted her innocence in the trumped-up charges filed against her. Due to lack of evidence, she was acquitted in one of these three cases on February 17, 2021. The two other cases are still pending. (30)