Malacañang 'won't interfere' in court decision on De Lima's furlough request

MANILA, Philippines – It's up to the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) alone to decide on Senator Leila de Lima's urgent request for furlough to see her ailing mother, said Malacañang on Monday, August 12.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace will not put pressure or interfere with the court in any way as it decides on the request of the detained senator, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critics.

"Ever since, the President has not interfered with any case involving anybody. Never siya nakialam (He never interfered) so the discretion lies with the court," Panelo told reporters at the Palace.

He confirmed that the Office of the President will leave matters to the Department of Justice.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra previously said he would not object to De Lima's request "for humanitarian reasons."

"We will never interfere with whatever cases there are pending with the courts," said Panelo.

De Lima's mother, Norma, has been suffering from dementia which her doctors say has reached a critical stage. She is at a hospital in Iriga City, Camarines Sur.

The senator has been in jail for over two years and saw her mother only twice during this time.

There have been several cases when the court granted furlough requests of detainees so that they may be present at important events of loved ones.

In 2007, former president Joseph Estrada, who was then detained for plunder, was allowed to visit his mother, Mary Ejercito. Murder defendant and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan was even allowed to attend his daughter's wedding in August 2018. 

De Lima is detained at Camp Crame for 3 counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade, which are pending before the Muntinlupa City RTC.

Various groups, both Filipino and international, have condemned De Lima's detention as politically motivated. Before her arrest, she had been investigating Duterte's involvement in Davao City death squads. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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