In this Dec. 8, 2017 photo, Sen. Leila M. de Lima waves at her supporters after appearing before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206.
File photo
PNP rejects Sotto request for De Lima to hold panel hearings
Audrey Morallo ( - July 11, 2018 - 6:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police on Wednesday rejected the request of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to allow opposition Sen. Leila de Lima to conduct committee hearings while in detention at Camp Crame.

In a letter dated July 11, 2018, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said that they could not act on the matter considering De Lima's status as a "detention prisoner" whose rights to exercise profession and hold public office were restricted.

Albayalde also said that requests on De Lima's performance of her legislative functions and possible conduct of committee hearings were for the court handling her drug-related cases to decide.

"It is with regret that the PNP cannot appropriately act on the matter considering Senator De Lima's status as a detention prisoner with restricted right to exercise profession and hold public office," Albayalde said in his letter to Sotto.

The Senate president requested the PNP to allow De Lima to hold committee hearings in her detention cell in a letter on July 2, just four days after Sotto visited the detained lawmaker.

Sotto argued that there were at least seven pending bills in De Lima's Senate committee on social justice, welfare and rural development that needed immediate attention.

Among these bills are the proposed Public Solicitation Act; Declaring February 23 of every year as the National Rotary Day; Magna Carta of the Poor; Magna Carta of Day Care Workers; Emergency Volunteer Protection Act; Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act; and Rural Employment Assistance Program Act.

Sotto cited the precedent in the case of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV who was allowed to fulfill his Senate duties despite being detained under the former Arroyo administration.

Albayalde cited the decision in the case of Trillanes' in justifying the PNP's decision.

"[A]ll prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office...while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and detention," the case as quoted by Albayalde's letter as saying.

De Lima has been detained in the PNP Custodial Center since Feb. 24, 2017 on drug-related charges.

The senator, who has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs and other policies, claimed that the charges were trumped-up and meant to silence her.

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