Sotto urges PNP to let De Lima hold hearings

SENATOR Leila de Lima upon her arrest for drug trafficking charges. AFP PHOTO

“Senate President stressed that De Lima did not ask for it.”

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has asked the Philippine National Police (PNP) to allow detained Sen. Leila de Lima to conduct hearings inside the PNP-Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

In a letter dated July 2 addressed to PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, Sotto said he wanted De Lima to exercise her functions as an elected senator of the republic.

“This is to formally request the Philippine National Police to allow Sen. Leila de Lima to exercise her functions as an elected senator of the country through the conduct of hearings on pending measures referred to the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development (Committee for Brevity)—a committee which she chairs—inside premises of the PNP Custodial Center,” Sotto stated in the letter.

“As the Senate President, I am giving Senator De Lima full authority to discharge her duties as chair of the committee, particularly to conduct and personally preside over its hearings—similar to what had been done by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during his detention,” Sotto said.

Trillanes, as chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service, conducted hearings while detained for rebellion charges at the PNP Custodial Center. He was freed during the Aquino administration.

Sotto cites Senate rules
“This request is being made so as the relevant measures that are currently pending in the committee will be given opportunity to be heard and be deliberated on by the Philippine Senate, consistent with Section 24 of the Senate Rules,” Sotto added.

Among the bills pending before De Lima’s committee are the Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act, the Magna Carta of the Poor, Magna Carta of Day Care Workers, the Public Solicitation Act, the National Rotary Day, February 23 of Every Year, the Emergency Volunteer Protection and Rural Employment Assistance Program Act.

Sotto’s request to the PNP came after she visited De Lima at her detention last June 28.
But the Senate President stressed that De Lima did not ask for it.

“She did not exactly ask for it. It was part of our mutual concern to facilitate the House Bills referred to her new committee,” Sotto said.

Sotto assured that camp rules and regulations will be followed during the conduct of hearings.

PNP rules to prevail
“During the conduct of the committee hearings, rest assured that the Senate contingent shall abide by the internal rules and regulations of your institution and the necessary coordination shall be made prior to the scheduled hearing for an orderly conduct of the same,’ assured Sotto.

De Lima has been in detention at the PNP Custodial Center since February 2017 for drug-related charges.

The opposition Liberal Party (LP) lauded Sotto’s move as LP president Senator Francis Pangilinan expressed hopes the PNP would approve the request.

“Our gratitude and support are with Senate President Vicente Sotto III for formally seeking the participation of Senator Leila de Lima in hearings lodged before her committee,” said Pangilinan in a statement.

“We hope the Philippine National Police will heed the request of the Senate President,” he added.