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Senators seek to allow De Lima to attend sessions virtually

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Senators seek to allow De Lima to attend sessions virtually
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is seen in this undated photo waving to her supporters and accompanied by the police
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, file

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Wednesday filed a resolution that would allow Sen. Leila de Lima to join the chamber's sessions and committee hearings virtually as the outspoken administration critic marked four years in detention that she has described as political persecution.

All three members of the Senate minority — Leader Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Francis Pangilinan, joined by President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto introducted Resolution No. 658 for the move.

The lawmakers said this could already be made possible as Camp Crame, where De Lima is detained, has the facilities for attending court hearings through teleconference,  a measure made necessary by the pandemic.

There is also nothing that prohibits imprisoned legislators from doing their duties so long as done in their detention centers, the senators said.

Citing the Supreme Court ruling in 2008 on then Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who was detained on mutiny charges, they said that limitations on holding office in detention "must be taken into account only to the extent that confinement restrains the power of locomotion or actual physical movement."

"In 2010, the Senate adopted Resolution No. 7 and concurred with the opinion of the Senate Legal Counsel that the collective wisdom and judgment of the Senate is greatly diminished, if not impaired, even if only one seat in the Senate is made unnecessarily vacant," the resolution continued.

De Lima has now spent 1,462 days in jail after her arrest in 2017 on drug-related charges that she said are politically-motivated. 

This had prohibited her from attending Senate sessions as well as taking a vote on measures but had since continued to file proposed legislations.

A Muntinlupa court has dismissed the first of three drug charges she is facing.

FRANCIS PANGILINAN FRANKLIN DRILON LEILA DE LIMA RALPH RECTO RISA HONTIVEROS RODRIGO DUTERTE SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES
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