By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will look for other options to take up pending bills after the Philippine National Police (PNP) denied Wednesday his request to allow Senator Leila de Lima to conduct committee hearings in detention.
“I will have to review my options on how to go about this,” Sotto told reporters in a text message.
De Lima, who has been detained for more than a year over illegal drug charges, chairs the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare, and Rural Development.
According to Sotto, there are six “major” bills passed on third reading by the House of Representatives that await deliberation at the De Lima panel.
These are the 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.
PNP Director-General Oscar Albayalde, in his response to Sotto’s July 2 letter, said the police institution “cannot appropriately act” on the request to allow De Lima to conduct hearings in Camp Crame as he cited her “status as a detention prisoner with restricted right to exercise the profession and hold public office.”
Albayalde, instead, referred to the court on the decision whether or not she would be allowed to hold committee hearings.
Sotto, however, said he is not inclined to seek court permission, saying it would be an interference to the judiciary branch.
“I’d rather not interfere with the judiciary and so I’ll review other options,” he reiterated.
The Senate chief, in an earlier interview, said he made the request so that pending bills in the Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development Committee could be tackled and reported out in plenary.
Aside from the six House bills, there are more than 40 measures pending in the De Lima panel, Sotto said.