Judge’s robe ordered for De Lima for impeachment trial

A robe has been ordered for detained Sen. Leila de Lima in case she could participate in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, but Malacañang is opposing her physical presence in the Senate for the proceedings.

“To show her that we are treating her fairly, we ordered her robe,” Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said in a radio interview on Tuesday, referring to De Lima, who is detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

If De Lima could find a way to be present at the impeachment trial, then there would be no problem, Pimentel said.

De Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte’s archcritic who is facing charges of conspiracy to trade drugs, had earlier disclosed plans to petition the court for permission to take part in Sereno’s trial.

The senator had said the drug charges filed against her were manufactured by the administration.

Among 23 senators
Pimentel said the Senate counted De Lima as among the 23 senators who would serve as judges in the Senate impeachment court.

He maintained, though, that De Lima had to be physically present to vote. A two-thirds vote (16 of the 23 senators) is needed to convict Sereno.

Even so, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said De Lima was free to dream about being allowed to attend the proceedings in the Senate.

“She should just watch TV if she has a TV in jail,” Roque said in a press briefing.

De Lima said that as a sitting senator, it was her mandate to take part in proceedings of grave importance.

For her part, De Lima thanked Pimentel “for acknowledging that, as a sitting senator, I can participate in the trial of Chief Justice Sereno, if and when she is impeached by the other chamber.”

‘Authoritarian bent’

“At a time when the ruling party is this powerful, with a President with an authoritarian bent at its helm, it behooves the Senate—as it behooves the whole nation—that everything be done to secure and promote the legitimacy and impartiality of the impeachment proceedings,” she said in a statement.

“Thus, I am certain that the Senate President, as a leading member of the ruling party, is quite aware that it is absolutely critical that members of the minority, such as myself, are allowed to genuinely and effectively participate in such a sensitive and potentially game-changing event in our nation’s history,” she added.

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