De Lima remains hopeful to conduct Senate hearings in detention

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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed optimism that she would be allowed to conduct public hearings on important legislative measures even while in detention.

She, who chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said she hopes that Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Oscar Albayalde can come to an “acceptable resolution” on the matter.

De Lima added she appreciates Sotto’s effort to look for options in pushing for bills pending before her committee even after Albayalde deferred to the court on the former’s request to allow her to hold hearings in detention.

“In any case, I fully appreciate SP Sotto’s commitment that he is reviewing his options on how to go about the issues,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 343.

“I have every faith that SP Sotto and PDG Albayalde can come to an acceptable resolution on this matter. I remain hopeful for a satisfactory outcome that will be good for the institution and integrity of the Senate,” she added.

Last July 2, Sotto sent a letter to Albayalde to request that De Lima be allowed to hold committee hearings inside the Custodial Center in Camp Crame where she has been detained on trumped-up drug charges.

In his letter, Sotto noted that similar arrangements were made when Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV was detained at Camp Crame on coup charges during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Rejecting Sotto’s request, the PNP explained in a letter to Sotto that it is up to the court to decide on any matter related to De Lima’s exercise of legislative functions as Senator of the Republic.

After PNP’s denial of his request, Sotto said he will look for other options to take up pending bills on the Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development.

De Lima said Albayalde could have been given the “wrong legal advice based on a misreading of case law” when he decided to deny Sotto’s request.

“Let it be stressed that Senate President Sotto, in his letter-request, is not asking that I be allowed to leave Camp Crame and attend hearings or sessions in the Senate premises. The request is simply to allow me to conduct Committee hearings within Camp Crame,” she said.

In rejecting Sotto’s request Sotto’s request, Albayalde cited in his letter two Supreme Court cases including that of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who was then allowed to do legislative work from detention.

“The main point in the case of Senator Trillanes is actually the recognition by the Court that a detained legislator could still ‘somehow accomplish legislative results’ despite the limitations caused by the confinement in so far as it restrains the power of locomotion or physical movement.,” she said.

“It was in light of this understanding that Sen. Trillanes was then allowed to conduct the hearings of his committee inside the custodial center,” she added.

The Senator from Bicol maintained she only wanted to fulfill her duty as the new chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development where six bills are awaiting Senate action.

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