Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed intent to take active part in the deliberations of important legislative measures as well as to attend in other official functions in the Senate even through remote or electronic means.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police–Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City on trumped-up charge of illegal drug trade, made the call as Congress resumes sessions on Tuesday after the Lenten recess.
“For more two months since I was illegally jailed on sham charges, I have refused to allow political persecution and harassment I suffer under the hands of the present administration to prevent me from fulfilling my electoral mandate,” she said.
“I have work to do as a senator and I will continue to do so because I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and represent them in the Senate. I hope I can participate in important debates in the Senate,” she said.
While in detention, De Lima has filed resolutions and bills. She remains the chairperson of the Senate electoral reforms and people’s participation committee.
The Senator from Bicol cited some cases when detained senators here as well as abroad were permitted to attend to their legislative duties, including participation in Senate proceedings, pending the resolution of the charges levelled against them.
“I have authored and sponsored important measures I promised the Filipino electorate to shepherd in the Senate. I have an electoral mandate to fulfill and it is my right to attend and participate in the proceedings in the Senate,” she said.
The former justice secretary said her legal team is currently studying legal options for her to be allowed to attend sessions at the Senate.
“Apart from my rights as a duly-elected senator, I have to invoke my rights as a political prisoner as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights,” she said.
In 1950s, she recalled, former Sen. Justiniano Montano was charged with the non-bailable offense of multiple murders but was allowed to post bail to perform his senatorial duties.
She added that sometime in 2008, the Senate under the leadership of then Senate President Aquilino Pimentel allowed then detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in Senate proceedings through teleconferencing.
De Lima also said she hopes to join her colleagues in deliberating on important measures, notably the proposed revival of death penalty, lowering the criminal age responsibility, and the postponement of barangay elections, among others.