By Jillian Lopez

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon and Sen. Panfilo Lacson have jointly filed a resolution asking the Senate to allow opposition Sen. Leila De Lima to participate in Senate proceedings and deliberations via teleconferencing.

Drilon and Lacson asserted that De Lima’s participation in plenary sessions and committee hearings through remote or electronic communications should be permitted in view of her rights as a senator.

Senate Resolution No. 51 provides that De Lima “has the mandate to participate in the lawmaking process and deliberations of proposed legislation” as well as “perform her duties as a duly-elected lawmaker.”

They also insisted that “her absence unduly deprives the 14 million Filipinos who voted for her in 2016” to properly represent them in the Senate.

“Even as a detention prisoner, Senator De Lima remains entitled to enjoy her constitutional rights such as the right to be presumed innocent, as well as her full civil and political rights,” Drilon and Lacson said.

Arrangements allowing for De Lima’s participation in plenary sessions will be done without violating any court or police rules on her detention. If the resolution is adopted, appropriate communications technology with secure connection will be set up by the Senate secretary to “safeguard the integrity of the session.”

De Lima, chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development, said the resolution was “an answered prayer” for her to fulfill her duties.

“Great news! Answered prayers. I’ve been longing to be given such a privilege so I can more meaningfully fulfill my mandate,” she said.

“I thank, wholeheartedly, the Minority Leader Sen. Drilon and Sen. Lacson for such an initiative. Sana po suportahan ng aming mga colleagues.

Since February 2017, De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, has been detained in a facility at Camp Crame following charges of drug trafficking.