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Anong problema mo Sotto? De Lima protests exclusion from joining online Senate sessions

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Senator Leila De Lima has slammed Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and other Senate leaders for excluding her from joining Senate sessions that will be held via teleconference starting May 4.

De Lima said her exclusion, which will be formalized under Senate rules to be adopted next week, is nothing but “petty politics.”

“SP (Senate President) Sotto’s statement that the jurisdiction of the courts and the PNP over my person prevents me from participating in Senate sessions via teleconferencing is completely and absolutely misinformed,” she said in a statement on Thursday (April 30).

De Lima said the Supreme Court is clear that she can still do her duties as senator as long as she does not leave her detention facilities at Camp Crame.

The senator has been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center over drug-related charges.

De Lima said the Senate could’ve adopted rules on holding sessions via teleconference in March, when they convened in a special session to pass the law on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. She believes the change didn’t happen so she could not participate in the special session.

“Now, there is pressure to amend the Rules to allow members to participate in hearings and sessions via teleconferencing and they make up an inexistent rule or reason that supposedly prevents me from doing even that. I reckon that if I were not a member of the opposition there would have been no ifs and buts in allowing me to participate remotely, just like everybody else, under the proposed new rules,” the senator said.

De Lima said her colleagues should allow her to participate in Senate sessions via teleconference regardless of her political affiliation.

“Malinaw na ayaw lang talaga ng mga nasa kapangyarihan na ipalahok ako sa mga deliberasyon sa Senado. Kung ayaw, maraming dahilan. Kung gugustuhin, hahanap ng paraan. Di ba?” she said.

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