‘A little bit awkward’: De Lima recalls Pimentel visit

Camille Elemia
'We had a bit of kamustahan and focused more on the legislative agenda, not much on my condition inside detention,' says Senator Leila de Lima

VISIT. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III visited his former lawyer, Senator Leila de Lima, in jail last July.

They were friends before the 2016 elections happened. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III hired then election lawyer Leila de Lima for his 2007 electoral protest, which he eventually won in 2011.

Fast forward to 2017, the two senators had an “awkward” meeting when Pimentel visited De Lima in jail for the first time last July.

Asked about it, De Lima told Rappler that their meeting happened days before the European Union lawmakers’ visit to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, where she has been detained since February.

“It was a little bit awkward,” De Lima said in a written note to Rappler dated August 27.

Pimentel is a staunch ally and party mate of President Rodrigo Duterte, while De Lima is one of the administration’s fiercest critics.

Asked how the visit went, Pimentel said he “already forgot” because it happened a month ago.

According to De Lima, the visit lasted for nearly an hour, mainly focusing on the Senate’s legislative agenda. Her chief of staff Fhillip Sawali and one of Pimentel’s political officers joined the meeting.

“We had a bit of kamustahan (small talk) and focused more on the legislative agenda, not much on my condition inside detention,” De Lima said.

The two also discussed De Lima’s request for a legislative furlough. The detained senator is seeking court permission to participate in “important” legislative deliberations even through “remote or electronic means.”

De Lima earlier appealed to Pimentel for support but the Senate President said the decision is best left to the court.

“He (Pimentel) said there is no problem with that as long as the court issues an order,” she said.

De Lima also asked the court to allow her to attend the Senate inquiry into the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, but no ruling was given before the hearing last Thursday, August 24. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, 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