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De Lima to seek court nod to join Senate debates

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima plans to seek the court's permission to allow her to participate in "important" legislative deliberations even through "remote or electronic means."

De Lima said she plans to join debates on controversial measures such as the restoration of the death penalty, lowering of the age of criminal responsibility, and the postponement of the barangay elections – bills that the entire minority bloc is opposing. 

"I have work to do as a senator and I will continue to do so because I owe it to the more than 14 million Filipino people who voted me in office and represent them in the Senate. I hope I can participate in important debates in the Senate," De Lima said in a statement on Monday, May 1.

"I have authored and sponsored important measures I promised the Filipino electorate to shepherd in the Senate. I have an electoral mandate to fulfill and it is my right to attend and participate in the proceedings in the Senate," she added.

Citing local and foreign cases, the senator said she could be permitted to attend to her legislative duties, pending the resolution of non-bailable drug charges against her.

The former justice secretary added that her legal team is currently studying legal options for her to be allowed to attend sessions at the Senate.

In the 1950s, De Lima said former senator Justiniano Montano was also charged with the non-bailable offense of multiple murders but was allowed to post bail to perform his senatorial duties.

She also pointed out that the Senate in 2008, under the leadership of former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr, allowed then detained Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to participate in Senate proceedings through teleconferencing.

De Lima said she could also invoke her rights as a "political prisoner" under Philippine laws and international treaties.

"Apart from my rights as a duly-elected senator, I have to invoke my rights as a political prisoner as provided and protected under Philippine laws and jurisprudence as well as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights," she said. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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