CITING double standard, Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. on Tuesday rejected the call of current and former senators to allow detained Sen. Leila de Lima to participate in Senate proceedings through video conferencing.
The senator expressed his objection to the joint statement of former president Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd and seven former senators to allow de Lima to participate in Senate debates through teleconferencing.
“The double standards and sense of entitlement of some people are frankly quite disheartening,” Revilla said in a statement.
De Lima was detained in February 2017 at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center on drug charges. She denied the complaint and described it as politically-motivated for being critical of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Revilla, together with then senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, were detained during de Lima’s term as justice secretary in the previous Aquino administration for their alleged involvement in the P10 billion Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel fund scam.
Aquino, together with former senators Rene Saguisag, Wigberto “Ka Bobby” Tanada, Sr., Sergio “Serge” Osmena 3rd, Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes 4th, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, and Francisco “Kit” Tatad expressed their collective support to the proposal to let de Lima fulfil her mandate.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson had filed Resolution 51 allowing de Lima to participate in plenary sessions via teleconferencing or other forms of remote electronic communications.
“When I was incarcerated due to politically motivated charges, which the Court has finally settled in my acquittal, a very vocal group were against my participation in Senate proceedings,” Revilla said.
“It is funny that among that group were Leila De Lima herself and some of those signatories in the open letter released yesterday,” he said.
Revilla added, “In fact, it was the official position of the Senate leadership at that time that the absence of three senators would have no impact on legislation.”
“Wala ‘yang pinagkaiba sa sitwasyon ko noon. Halatang- halata naman ang special treatment ‘pag pinayagan ‘yan ngayon (This is no different from my situation before. It will be very obvious that she will be accorded special treatment if this will be allowed now),” he said.
“Equal protection and fair play dictates that Leila De Lima cannot be allowed to participate in Senate proceedings, even if only remotely,” Revilla said.
“First, to do so would amount to giving her favor over and above other detainees. And second, to allow her to vote in absencia would be a travesty against the Senate as a whole as this has no basis in the Rules. And even if the Rules are amended, it will lead to absurd results,” he said. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO