Revilla: Allowing De Lima to join Senate debates is 'special treatment'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr opposed the proposal to let detained Senator Leila de Lima join Senate debates remotely, describing it as a "special treatment".
"Wala 'yang pinagkaiba sa sitwasyon ko noon. Halatang halata naman ang special treatment 'pag pinayagan 'yan ngayon," said Revilla on Tuesday, August 27.
(That's no different from my situation before. The special treatment is very obvious if she's allowed.)
Revilla reacted to the joint statement of 8 former senators supporting the resolution seeking to allow De Lima to perform her duties via teleconferencing. In 2014, Revilla's second Senate term was cut short when he was jailed for plunder charges. He was later acquitted in December 2018. (READ: Revilla concealed unexplained wealth, liable for graft – dissenting justice)
"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," he 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 added.
The ex-senators who signed the statement of support were former president Benigno Aquino III, Wigberto "Bobby" Tañada, Francisco "Kit" Tatad, Rene Saguisag, Sergio Osmeña III, Mar Roxas, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV.
Revilla said that the Senate leadership's position when he was incarcerated was that the "absence of 3 senators would have no impact on legislation."
"Equal protection and fair play dictates that Leila De Lima cannot be allowed to participate in Senate proceedings, even if only remotely," he said.
Revilla argued that allowing her to join Senate proceedings amounts to giving her favor above other detainess.
He also called allowing her to vote in absence is a "travesty against the Senate as a whole."
"Even if the rules are amended, it will lead to absurd results," he said.
In a dispatch from her detention cell, De Lima on Wednesday, August 28, questioned who is the real victim of political persecution.
"People know who are, and are not, the real victims of political persecution," De Lima said in response.
In late July, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Panfilo Lacson filed Senate Resolution No. 51 to allow the participation of De Lima in plenary debates and committee hearings via teleconferencing, video conferencing, and similar methods.
Even though the Senate leadership supported the move, the resolution is still pending in the committee level weeks after it was filed.
Lawmakers joining Senate sessions through teleconferencing is not new. When Trillanes was detained, an equipment was bought so that he could participate plenary debates through electronic communications. Lacson said the equipment could be used again. – Rappler.com