De Lima asks Senate to let her join sessions

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DETAINED Sen. Leila de Lima is asking for a Senate action that would allow her to participate in decision-making processes of the chamber by allowing her to vote even if she is held on drug-related charges.

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In a three-page letter addressed to Senate President Aquilino 3rd dated May 11, 2017, de Lima maintained that since she is still an elected senator and has not yet been stripped of her office, it is not too much for the Senate to ask the court to allow her occasional furloughs for her to be able to attend Senate sessions and vote on vital legislation.

“The minimum that I request is for an expression of support for my desire to occasionally be granted furloughs by the court in charge of my detention, for purposes of voting on crucial landmark legislation on a case-to-case basis,” the senator stated in her letter.

De Lima explained that she should be allowed to execute her duties as a lawmaker since the penalties of temporary absolute disqualification and temporary special disqualification for public office do not take effect during her detention.

She said penalties only take effect upon imposition of a judgment of conviction.

De Lima argued that if detention prisoners were allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to register as voters and to vote in general elections from municipal and city jails, she sees no legal barrier in the applicability of the same principle to the case of a detained senator.

She noted that if the courts in the past granted furloughs to detained senators to attend birthdays, it is not too much for the Senate to ask the court in charge of her detention to grant such a consideration, especially since her intention is not merely to go to a birthday party.

“The Senate and your good office will not exactly be going out on a limb in supporting such a request. The fact remains that I am still a Senator of the Republic,” de Lima said in her letter to Pimentel.

De Lima said she sees no reason why the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her in the May 2016 elections should be deprived of their representation in the Senate and have their sovereign mandate discarded without any valid legal reason.

 JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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