Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Leila de Lima talk in her detention cell at Camp Crame yesterday.
Sen. Sotto visits De Lima at Crame, vows help
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Vicente  Sotto III yesterday visited Sen. Leila de Lima in her detention cell at Camp Crame and vowed to help her perform some of her functions even while incarcerated.

Sotto arrived at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center at around 10 a.m. and stayed for at least 30 minutes talking to De Lima.

In a statement, De Lima thanked Sotto for visiting her, saying they talked about how she can actively participate in the Senate hearings and in pushing for significant legislative measures that will improve the plight of the Filipinos.

“I am looking forward and assured the Senate leadership to work with them closely in fulfilling my duties as chair of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development as well as my mandate to the Filipino people,” De Lima said.

Sotto said it was an official visit as Senate President to one of the Senate members, who he has not seen for some time.

“I am president of all members of the Senate, not only of the majority, but also the minority,” Sotto said.

He said he wanted to take up with De Lima the pending bills of the Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development and to check on her condition at the detention facility.

“She was in high spirits. I was asking about her condition and she said she was being treated fairly,” Sotto said.

He said his primary reason for visiting De Lima was to discuss with her the pending bills before the committee on social justice, which he said should be taken up already.

There are around 48 bills referred to the committee, seven of which were transmitted by the House of Representatives for concurrence of the Senate. 

“I realized there were so many pending bills before her committee, including seven House bills. I told her that we need to report out these bills,” Sotto said.

In order to facilitate the process, Sotto said he would formally ask PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to allow De Lima to conduct hearings at the custodial center.

He cited the case of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who was also allowed to conduct hearings at the PNP Custodial Center, where he was also detained in 2007 when he first won as senator.

Once this is approved, Sotto said he would send the members of the committee secretariat to take down the proceedings.

De Lima will still be the one to prepare the committee reports, but either of the two vice chairs of the committee, Sens. Nancy Binay or Cynthia Villar, will sponsor these in the plenary.

Sotto said De Lima asked that she be allowed to monitor the Senate proceedings from her detention cell, which he granted through live streaming on a tablet computer.

He said he would make a separate request for the PNP to lend her a tablet from where she could monitor the plenary sessions from Monday to Wednesday, 3 p.m. onwards. 

The Senate chief said that when his wife Helen Gamboa found out that he was visiting De Lima, she prepared tinapa rice for him to bring to her as well as some pastries. 

He said De Lima seemed to appreciate his visit. 

“I don’t know if she was happier with the tinapa rice or my visit,” Sotto said.

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