Koko on Leila’s request to join Senate sessions: ‘Let the court decide, let her lawyers work’

May 3, 2017 - 7:05 AM
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Senate PRIB file photo of Senate President Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday said it was up to the court to decide on whether to allow detained Sen. Leila de Lima to participate in Senate sessions particularly in the deliberations of measures.

“Nasa court na ‘yong issue [The issue is already in the court], so let the court decide. Let her lawyers work,” Pimentel told reporters in an interview.

“The court can ask, or the Senate President can initiate as an amicus curiae if the court would ask but I don’t think it’s the case so it is not important. It is only done if it is a difficult question of constitutional law,” he added.

However, Pimentel said that according to Senate rules, De Lima had to be present to be able to interpellate, debate and vote.

On the other hand, she did not need to be present to file resolutions and bills.

“Ang rules kasi namin [According to our rules], you must be present to be able to interpellate, to debate, and to vote, but you need not be present to file resolutions, to file bills,” he explained.

“’Yong mga need not be present na things [The things you need not to be present], we can still do, but those that need your presence, what can we do? You must be physically present,” he added.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a separate interview, said De Lima’s request had yet to be discussed.

“Pag-uusapan namin sa majority [We at the majority will have to talk about tha],” Lacson said, however, noted that he was in favor of maximizing the participation of all Senators.

“Kung ako tatanungin, kasi ginawa namin kay Sen. (Antonio) Trillanes, but it entails additional facilities. Kasi kung teleconferencing, kailangan mag-install pa tayo rito ([If you ask me, we did it before with Sen. Trillanes but it entails additional facilities. If it’s teleconferencing, we need to install facilities here],” he added.

Lacson, however, said that De Lima could not be allowed to vote as the rules clearly state that she would have to be physically present.

“Voting, she cannot. Kasi ang voting kailangan physically present ka. But kung if at all papayagan, participate in the deliberations. Pero sa voting, I don’t… kasi mag-violate kami ng rules [To vote, she would have to be physically present. She might be allowed to participate in deliberations but in voting, that would violate the rules],” he added.

Asked if De Lima would be allowed to leave her detention cell to vote, Lacson said that it was not within the Senate’s authority to allow her that request.

De Lima’s legal team is currently studying legal options for her to be allowed to attend sessions at the Senate.