De Lima dismayed over court’s dismissal of motion to join Senate ‘hybrid’ sessions

Robie de Guzman   •   June 19, 2020   •   824

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed dismay over the decision of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 to junk her motion seeking to join the “hybrid” Senate sessions and hearing while in detention at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame for drug-related charges.

“In denying my motion, the trial court may have failed to see what the Supreme Court has doctrinally acknowledged in the cases of Jalosjos and Trillanes that it is possible for a person deprived of liberty (PDL) to still legally pursue a profession or legitimately perform the functions of a public office as long as he or she can do it within the confines of his or detention cell,” De Lima said in a statement.

“As the Senate rules now allow for teleconferencing as a mode of participating in sessions and hearings in crisis or emergency situations or pandemic, I can easily do it if I will be provided with a laptop and internet connection, without need for me to get out of the PNP Custodial Center,” she added.

It can be recalled that on May 4, the Senate amended its rules to allow both physical and online attendance to legislative proceedings in a bid to prevent the possible transmission of novel coronavirus disease among its members and employees.

However, De Lima was still not allowed to participate in “virtual” sessions as Senate leadership claimed that she is “not under the chamber’s jurisdiction.”

The opposition senator maintained that disallowing her from taking part in online sessions, hearings, and meetings of the Senate “prevents her from fully performing her mandate as a lawmaker.”

“With all due respect to the Honorable Court, allowing my online participation in the Senate sessions will not negate the fact that I am still in prison. What the court permission can do however is to pay full respect to the mandate that I received from the Filipino people as a sitting Senator,” De Lima said.

“Please note that there is no civil interdiction imposed on me by any court, thus, there should be no unreasonable restrictions on my rights and legitimate interests,” she added.

She also asserted that she is still in “full possession” of her civil and political rights as her cases as still at the trial stage and has not been convicted of any crime.

De Lima filed her omnibus motion on June 1.

But in a Joint Order dated June 17, Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205, presided by Judge Liezel Aquitan denied De Lima’s motion, concluding that “the presumption of innocence does not carry with it the full enjoyment of civil and political rights.”

The court also said that the amendment in the Senate rules states that hearings and sessions via teleconferencing in the upper chamber are only allowed when there is force majeure or an emergency which may prevent senators from physically attending.

“De Lima is prevented to attend the committee meeting or hearings due to her detention. Detention is not a force majeure,” the court order read.

The court said that allowing De Lima to attend the Senate sessions, hearings, and meetings via teleconferencing within her place of detention is “no different from allowing her to attend there physically.”

“Allowing her to do so today would be tantamount to allowing her to participate even after the state of public health emergency,” it added.

De Lima said she is planning to file a motion for reconsideration.

De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while she was Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

De Lima seeks reelection in 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   October 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila De Lima has filed her certificate of candidacy (COC), through an authorized representative, for her reelection bid in the 2022 elections.

De Lima’s spokesperson, Atty. Dino de Leon, filed her COC on Friday on her behalf.

In seeking reelection, De Lima said she wants to restore justice in the next administration and vowed to demand an accounting of President Rodrigo Duterte’s unfulfilled campaign promises.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, has been in detention since 2017 at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame for her alleged involvement in the narcotics trade.

She has repeatedly denied the drug-related charges against her.

Prior to being elected as senator in 2016, she served as chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights and secretary of the Department of Justice.

Kiko Pangilinan, Leila de Lima, Bam Aquino lead LP Senate bets for 2022 polls

Robie de Guzman   •   September 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP) on Tuesday announced the nominations of Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Leila de Lima, as well as former Senator Bam Aquino, as its senatorial candidates for the 2022 elections.

In a statement, the LP said the formal nomination of Pangilinan, de Lima, and Aquino happened during the party’s virtual National Executive Council Meeting.

Aquino has yet to announce his plans for the upcoming polls.

The gathering was attended by LP party chairperson and Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Quezon City Representative Christopher “Kit” Belmonte, and former lawmakers Teddy Baguilat and Erin Tañada, among others.

The LP said it also passed a resolution endorsing Senator Risa Hontiveros and Atty. Chel Diokno as part of its initial list of guest senatorial candidates, for being aligned with the party’s principles.

The former ruling party also passed another resolution granting Robredo full authority and discretion in initiating talks and coming up with agreements, as well as identifying and assembling a united national slate of candidates for president, vice president and senators, “while respecting her preference on the elective position she may decide to run for, if any, with the full support by the Party as a whole.”

Robredo has yet to announce her plans for the 2022 elections.

The period for the filing of candidacy will be from October 1 to 8.

De Lima slams Duterte for digging up COA findings on DOJ, DILG under Aquino admin

Robie de Guzman   •   August 25, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday clapped back at President Rodrigo Duterte for bringing up old Commission on Audit (COA) reports on the supposed unliquidated funds of agencies that she and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas respectively handled during the previous administration.

“For someone who cannot even publicly disclose and release his own SALN, Duterte’s accusation against me and Sec. Mar Roxas regarding COA’s past reports on our agencies is just plain rich in irony and hypocrisy,” De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima served as Justice secretary while Roxas led the Department of the Interior and Local Government during the time of the late President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

During a public address on Tuesday night, Duterte mentioned De Lima and Roxas who were also reported by COA to have unliquidated cash advance and fund transfers in their respective agencies in 2013 and 2014.

But De Lima said Duterte’s act of raising the issue is “a clear case of misdirection.”

“I challenge Duterte to file cases with the Ombudsman arising from those COA reports. He cannot, because those accounts have long been settled and closed. The COA knows that,” she said.

She also said that neither of them threatened COA for releasing audit reports and that other Cabinet members  of the Aquino administration “always took COA reports seriously, corrected whatever deficiencies were identified in those reports, and acted accordingly to comply with COA recommendations.”

“Hindi kami katulad ng mga ilang tao sa gobyerno ni Duterte na magngangangawngaw sa telebisyon, at lalong hindi katulad ni PNoy si Duterte na pagbabantaan ang COA dahil lamang ginawa nito ang trabaho nila,” she said.

“Walang nagsisigaw sa aming dalawa sa telebisyon na winarak kami ng COA,” she said in an apparent swipe at Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

COA called out the Department of Health under Duque over alleged deficiencies in the use of its funds for COVID-19 response.

De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is currently detained over drug-related charges.

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