By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday rejected the request of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to allow detained Senator Leila de Lima to hold committee hearings at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
“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,” said PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde in a letter to Sotto dated Wednesday, July 11.
Albayalde added it was up to the court, which has jurisdiction over her case, to decide whether or not she could be allowed to hold committee hearings at the PNP Custodial Center where she is being detained for illegal drugs offenses.
“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,” he noted.
Relatively, Albayalde cited two Supreme Court decisions, Trillanes IV versus Pimentel, et al, GR No. 179817 dated June 27, 2008; and People vs. Jalosjos GR Nos. 132875-76 dated November 16, 2001 in coming up with their decision to bar De Lima from holding committee hearings.
“[T]he PNP has relied on the controlling precedent on the matter of prohibition/ limitation on the exercise of legislative functions while in detention laid down in two similar cases decided by the Supreme Court where it emphasized that: “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 court in the Jalosjos case further said: “election to the position of Congressman is not a reasonable classification in criminal law enforcement. “