PNP says not within its jurisdiction to allow De Lima to hold Senate hearings

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 11) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) refused to act on the Senate President's request for the institution to allow detained Senator Leila de Lima to hold Senate hearings in jail.

"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," PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said in a letter addressed to Senate President Tito Sotto on Wednesday.

He leaves it up to the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court which is hearing De Lima's pending drug cases.

"Any matter pertaining to requests to exercise her legislative functions as an elected senator and conduct committee hearings for such purpose is a matter for the Court having jurisdiction over her pending case/s to decide," Albayalde said.

In response, Sotto reiterated that the request was made in light of the following pending measures at De Lima's committee:

  • Public Solicitation Act
  • National Rotary Day, February 23 of Every Year
  • Magna Carta of the Poor
  • Magna Carta of Day Care Workers
  • Emergency Volunteer Protection Act
  • Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act
  • Rural Employment Assistance Program Act

"I will have to review my options on how to go about this," Sotto said in a statement, adding that he does not want to interfere with the judiciary.

De Lima has been detained on drug charges at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February last year, although her camp has maintained that the charges are false. The opposition senator was a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody war on drugs.

Since her detention, De Lima has been unable to vote on Senate measures or attend hearings. However, she has continuously drafted proposals.  According to her staff, she has authored 22 bills and 59 resolutions, co-authored 24 bills and four resolutions, and co-sponsored one bill during the second regular session of Congress.

On July 2, Sotto had asked the PNP to allow De Lima to fulfill her functions as chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice, Welfare and Rural Development - from "inside the premises of the PNP Custodial Center" where she is detained.

The request came about a week after Sotto visited De Lima at the PNP Custodial Center.