Sotto to PNP: Allow De Lima to hold committee hearings in jail

Camille Elemia
(UPDATED) 'As the Senate President, I am giving Senator De Lima full authority to discharge her duties as chair of the committee,' says Senate President Vicente Sotto III in a letter to PNP chief Oscar Albayalde

VISIT. Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Leila de Lima inside the PNP Custodial Center, where De Lima is detained. Photo from the Office of the Senate President

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has asked the Philippine National Police to allow detained Senator Leila de Lima to hold Senate committee hearings in her detention center at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Sotto formally relayed the request to PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in a letter dated July 2.

“As the Senate President, I am giving Senator De Lima full authority to discharge her duties as chair of the Committee, particularly to conduct and personally preside over its hearings – similar to what had been done by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during his detention,” Sotto said in the letter.

De Lima chairs the Senate committee on social justice, welfare, and rural development.

Sotto assured Albayalde that the chamber and its contingent would coordinate with the PNP and abide by its internal rules and regulations.

Sotto said this is to ensure that the relevant measures pending in De Lima’s committee “will be given an opportunity to be heard and be deliberated on by the Philippine Senate.”

At present, there are 7 bills pending in De Lima’s committee, which Sotto said would benefit Filipinos if passed into law:

  1. Public Solicitation Act
  2. National Rotary Day, February 23 of every year
  3. Magna Carta of the Poor
  4. Magna Carta of Day Care Workers
  5. Emergency Volunteer Protection Act
  6. Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act
  7. Rural Employment Assistance Programt Act

Sotto earlier visited De Lima in jail, where they discussed the detained senator’s condition and work-related concerns, including her desire to conduct hearings.

Sotto is an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, De Lima’s political nemesis. De Lima is in jail for alleged illegal drug charges, which the detained senator said were fabricated by Duterte and his people out of vengeance.

Senator Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party president, thanked Sotto for formally conveying the request to the PNP and expressed hope that the latter would allow his fellow LP member to perform her functions while in detention.

“It is right and just for Senator De Lima to be allowed to perform her duties as a member of the legislature. Despite her unjust incarceration, Senator De Lima has expressed her desire to carry out her functions as a lawmaker and help craft laws beneficial to the people,” Pangilinan said. –