Press Release
August 4, 2020

De Lima relinquishes membership in Justice Committee in favor of Hontiveros

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has relinquished her membership in the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in favor of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, an action seen as a tactical response of anti-death penalty solons to the earlier move within the camp of pro-capital punishment where Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian gave up his committee membership to allow Senator Ronald dela Rosa to lead sub-committee hearings on pending death penalty bills.

De Lima said she wants Hontiveros, a justice and human rights champion like her, to have the opportunity to vote and fully join the committee or subcommittee hearings and deliberations on the death penalty bills and other proposed measures referred to the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee.

"Given my current situation and limitations where I cannot vote and wholly participate in Senate sessions and hearings due to my continued unjust detention, I am relinquishing my membership in the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in favor of Sen. Risa Hontiveros," she said.

"As a courageous voice in the Senate who speaks truth to power and fights for justice and human rights, Sen. Risa's participation and vote will definitely matter because she will always be on the side of justice," she added.

Last Monday, Aug.3, Sen. Minority Leader Franklin Drilon read the letter of De Lima stating her decision to relinquish her membership in the Committee of Justice and Human Rights in the plenary session.

Afterwards, Drilon moved to elect Hontiveros to replace De Lima in the committee and Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri seconded the motion. There was no objection.

It may be recalled that in Duterte's fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27, he urged Congress to reinstate death penalty "by lethal injection for crimes specified under the Comprehensive Dangerous [Drugs] Act of 2002."

Currently, there are seven death penalty bills at the Senate, which have been referred to the Justice and Human Rights Committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon. De Lima used to chair that committee since the start of her term in June 2016 until her expulsion in September 2016 in the wake of her probe into the extrajudicial killings in Duterte's "war on drugs."

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, has consistently opposed the restoration of the capital punishment even way back when she was chair of the Commission on Human Rights from 2008 to 2010, and then as Secretary of the Department of Justice from 2010 to 2015.

De Lima assures the public that despite her relinquishment of the Justice Committee membership post, she shall continue to actively engage in the discourses relative to the proposed pro-death penalty measure through inputs and proposed questions to be coursed thru Sen. Hontiveros, and via an intensified advocacy work against the proposed measure.

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