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De Lima cries ‘foul’ as Senate bars her from online sessions

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Leila M. De Lima
PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

DETAINED Senator Leila M. de Lima on Thursday decried the Senate leadership’s decision to bar her from joining the chamber’s virtual sessions next week, saying it is “foul and unfair.”

In a statement, one of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s staunchest critics said excluding her from the online sessions is part of government efforts to “silence me and prevent me from fully performing my duties as a senator.”

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III earlier said Ms. De Lima, who has been detained on drug charges since February 2017, could not participate in online sessions because she remains under court and police jurisdiction.

But Ms. De Lima, who has criticized Mr. Duterte’s drug war, said her detention only prevents her from traveling and does not cover her duties as a senator.

Mr. Sotto’s claim that she is under the jurisdiction of the police and courts is “completely and absolutely misinformed,” she said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said jurisprudence bars Ms. De Lima from joining Senate hearings and sessions.

The Supreme Court has ruled that “all prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot practice their profession or engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention,” Mr. Zubiri said in a group message.

“Unfortunately, it is a decision we cannot decide on ourselves without violating the rules of the court and jurisprudence,” he said, noting that Ms. De Lima may appeal the matter to the court. — Charmaine A. Tadalan





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