There is a Drilon-Lacson resolution allowing Sen. Leila de Lima to participate in plenary sessions of the Senate through video conferencing. This is supported by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

The resolution makes sense. Leila de Lima is an incumbent senator and she was elected by 14.1 million Filipino citizens. The people has given her this mandate. It is an injustice to the people not to respect their will, especially now that this can be done through the modern ways of communication. She may be behind bars but she has not been convicted on the charges against her. Through modern technology, by video conferencing, she can perform her duty in participating in the discussions during plenary sessions, even remotely. There are only 24 senators. The voice of each one is needed to enrich the discussions – and the decisions – that are done in this august hall. If ordinary workers can now work from home, thanks of the Telecommuting Law that Duterte signedlast December, then Senator de Lima can certainly do it from her prison cell. The good senator is doing her work as an elected official from her cell, crafting laws and commenting on pieces of legislations and sending them to the Senate. This is tedious but she does it. Her participation in the deliberations on the Senate floor itself can be further enhanced by being there in the plenary sessions, though remotely.

The Senate is open to ideas coming from the public to enlighten senators on the laws they are making. They even invite resource persons to speak. Why not allow one who is in their rolls, elected by the people as all 23 of them are, to participate in their discussions? Senator de Lima has the experience and the brilliance to add to the wisdom of the Senate discussions. Allow her to participate. This is part of the democratic space that is accorded to her as an elected lawmaker.

I hope it is not the fear of the administration — and the other senators — of her fiery character and independent ideas that is keeping her from participating in the floor of the Senate.

Broderick Pabillo
August 28, 2019