Heavily guarded De Lima votes in Parañaque

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2019   •   1427

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Monday afternoon cast her vote for the 2019 midterm elections after she was granted furlough by a Muntinlupa court.

Under heavy security, De Lima cast her ballot at Sta. Rita College in Parañaque at past noon.   

Nearly 100 policemen from Camp Crame and Parañaque escorted De Lima to the polling center where she spent around 15 minutes.

Police lined the hallway to her precinct and guarded the doors while others were stationed on the school grounds and outside of the gate.

The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 last week granted De Lima’s request for furlough to vote during the elections as allowed under the Commission on Election’s “Escorted Detainee Voting System.”

The court said in its order that De Lima will shoulder all costs for her transport from her detention facility in Camp Crame in Quezon City to her precinct in Parañaque City.

She was also banned from giving any media interviews before and after voting.

According to De Lima’s legal counsel, her client wanted to exercise her right to suffrage and vote for her supported candidates.

“Tuwang-tuwa kami na at least napagbigyan kami [sa] ganitong kahilingan at sana nga ‘yung mga sunod na kahilingan ni Senator De Lima ay mapagbigyan din,” Atty. Boni Tacardon told UNTV News and Rescue in an interview.

The senator, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was detained since February 2017 over illegal drug-related charges. She was also accused of accepting drug money from convicted drug lords when she was still Justice Secretary.

However, De Lima’s camp had repeatedly denied the allegations, insisting that charges against her are only fabricated in a bid to silence Duterte’s critics. (with details from April Cenedoza)

De Lima urges Google Philippines to take down fake videos on YouTube

Robie de Guzman   •   August 23, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed alarm over the “continued proliferation of fake videos” on video-sharing website Youtube and urged Google Philippines to take it down.

“The continued proliferation of fake videos on YouTube is highly alarming. These fake videos have been widely shared across social media platforms by well-orchestrated network of pages that aim to manipulate reality to advance their political agendas,” De Lima said in a statement.

The senator said fake videos are populating on one of its subsidiaries, notably YouTube, “which becomes the go-to platform of sinister groups to spread lies and misleading content.”

De Lima called on Google Philippines to take concrete and decisive actions to ensure the veracity of the videos and audio clips it allows to be disseminated and shared on its service by cleaning up YouTube of fake clips.

“Google Philippines should take this concern seriously and start the crackdown on fake videos, including deep fake videos, on YouTube to free the public from any confusion about what’s real and what’s fake. This is long overdue,” she added.

The lawmaker also said she has since been aware of the malicious content populating YouTube because she has been a constant target of fake news on the said platform, as with other social networking sites.

“I should know. Evil men and women who are behind the fake news stories and videos against me have long been resorting to YouTube, among other social media platforms, to discredit me and make me appear bad in the public’s eyes,” she said.

“Even though my Senate staff report these online fake news pages and websites regularly, their efforts are not enough to control the proliferation of these fake news videos, especially among overseas Filipino workers,” she added.

De Lima believes that Google Philippines and its mother unit would be more responsible in finding innovative ways that could control, if not at all stop, the continued circulation and distribution of fake videos on YouTube.

“The people behind these dubious accounts and channels should also be held accountable for their actions. Media literacy and fact-checking platforms would not suffice unless technology giants like Google contribute in fighting disinformation,” she said.

Google Philippines has yet to issue a statement on the matter as of posting.

Palace won’t interfere in court decision on De Lima’s request to visit mother

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 12, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

Malacañang said on Monday (Aug 12) that they will not interfere with the court’s decision on Senator Leila de Lima’s request to visit her ailing mother.

Senator De Lima has filed a request at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court to visit her mother who is suffering from dementia.

Her mother is currently at a hospital in Iriga City, Camarines Sur.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panel has refused to further comment on the issue and said that the Office of the President will leave the decision to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Ever since, the President has not interfered with any case involving anybody. Never siyang nakialam (he has never interfered), so the discretion always lies with the court,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

De Lima welcomes Senate proposal allowing her to join sessions

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima welcomes the proposal of her fellow senators to allow her to join Senate proceedings and perform her duties as a duly-elected lawmaker.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson recently filed the Senate Resolution No. 51 seeking to allow De Lima to participate in plenary debates and committee hearings through teleconferencing, video conferencing or other forms of remote or electronic communications.

De Lima called the proposal an “answered prayer,” saying she has been longing to participate in Senate proceedings.

“I thank, wholeheartedly, the Minority Leader Sen. Drilon and Sen. Lacson for such an initiative. Sana po suportahan ng aming mga colleagues. A blessed Sunday,” she said in a statement issued from her detention quarters at the PNP-Custodial Center, Camp Crame.

In filing the resolution, Drilon and Lacson insisted that De Lima, as a duly-elected Senator, has the mandate to take part in the process on deliberating and passing important legislations, adding that her absence unduly deprives the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her in 2016.

“Even as a detention prisoner, Senator De Lima remains entitled to enjoy her constitutional rights such as the right to be presumed innocent, as well as her full civil and political rights,” the senators said.

“As a deliberative legislative body, it is incumbent upon the Senate to take necessary measures to ensure that its members will be given every possible opportunity to participate in its plenary sessions,” they added.

The two senators recalled that in 2010, the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 7 and fully concurred with the opinion of the Senate Legal Counsel in the case of Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV who was then facing coup d’etat charges.

Lacson and Drilon insisted that arrangements may be made to allow De Lima to participate in plenary sessions through communications technology that will allow audio-visual interactions with remote audiences or co-participants through secure connection.

If adopted, the Resolution will mandate the Senate Secretary to coordinate and make appropriate arrangements for the setting of appropriate telephone, video, broadband and/or wireless link necessary for the selected mode of remote participation.

The Senate Secretary should also ensure to safeguard the integrity of the session via teleconferencing and proper archiving of the audio-visual or electronic recording as part of the records of the Senate.

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