Officials of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Committee on Human Rights are in the country to check on the situation of Sen. Leila de Lima.
The IPU delegation, led by its president Fawzia Koofi of Afghanistan, met with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Monday and thanked him for inviting them to the country.
The team will conduct a fact-finding mission and will also meet other senators to get information on De Lima’s case.
“They are the ones concerned with Sen. De Lima so let them do their job,” Pimentel said.
Koofi, in an interview said the panel was concerned over the supposed violation of De Lima’s human rights.
“We are here to see and assess the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima. The Senate president has already been very cooperative with the committee,” Koofi said. The team will meet De Lima on Wednesday.
The senator recently wrote Pimentel to ask his support so that she can be allowed occasional furloughs to attend Senate sessions and vote on vital legislation.
De Lima said 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.
Pimentel is yet to decide if he will act on De Lima’s request.
“I don’t know if she wrote me a letter for propaganda purposes. Hence, I do not know if she is serious with her letter’s substantive points or if they have been raised for propaganda purposes,” he told reporters.
But he said those under detention lose their right to practice their profession or to exercise their duties in connection with their occupation.
“That’s on our rules, the physical presence and there is jurisprudence on detention that says that if you are detained, you cannot do some things,” he added.
On Monday, seven members of the opposition at the House of Representatives visited De Lima at the Philippine National Police’s Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Representatives Edcel Lagman of Albay, Edgar Erice of Caloocan, Raul Daza of Northern Samar, Emmanuel Billones of Capiz, Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao, Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list arrive in Camp Crame at 10 a.m. An hour later, and Tomasito Villarin of Akbayan party-list showed up but he was not allowed to see the senator because his name was not in the guest list.
Erice told reporters that de Lima raised her desire to attend Senate sessions and vote on important bills.
“Well, if we are all allowed to attend events such as birthdays and even family occasions, I think she is entitled to attend important sessions, not the everyday sessions but just in important votings. It should be allowed by the court,” he told reporters.
Erice agreed that de Lima should continue doing her duties as a senator, noting that she is still presumed innocent.
“[She] is hoping that Senate President Pimentel will help her and since [Piment el] is the father of the Senate, she is hoping that the Senate leader will grant her request to vote on important issues such as the death penalty and the tax reform,” Erice said.
with DEMPSEY REYES