The Philippine National Police (PNP) has denied the request of Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III to allow Senator Leila de Lima to conduct committee hearings while in detention.
“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 Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a letter dated July 11.
Matters related to De Lima’s exercise of duty as an elected senator is up to the court to decide, the PNP said.
“Consequently, 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 explained.
In July 2, Sotto formally asked the PNP to allow detained De Lima to conduct committee hearings on bills that await her attention.
After the PNP declined his request, Sotto said: “I will have to review my options on how to go about this.”
According to the Senate President, there are at least six major bills passed on third reading by the House of Representatives that are now pending in De Lima’s committee:
- Public Solicitations Act
- Magna Carta of the Poor
- Magna Carta of Day Care Workers
- Emergency Volunteer Protection Act
- Social Welfare and Development Agencies Act, and
- Rural Employment Assistance Program Act
In declining Sotto’s request, the PNP cited two similar cases decided by the Supreme Court with the following explanations:
“All prisoners whether under preventive detention or serving final sentence cannot practice their profession nor engage in any business or occupation, or hold office, elective or appointive, while in detention. This is a necessary consequence of arrest and detention.”
“[The] election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. The functions and duties of the office are not substantial distinctions which lift him from the class of prisoners interrupted in their freedom and restricted in liberty of movement. Lawful arrest and confinement are germane to the purposes of the law and apply to all those belonging to the same class.” /ee
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