WHEN Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. was detained following accusations that he and Janet Napoles earned illicit millions of pesos from his pork barrel, the Senate did nothing to hear his thoughts on issues then being discussed on the floor.
The same treatment was given to former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who were with Revilla at the Camp Crame detention center for similar crimes.
In these circumstances, the prosecutorial rules of the government prevailed, with the three senators and their visitors banned from using cellphones, the detainees not allowed to give media interviews, and prohibited from joining their colleagues in discussions at the Senate plenary.
Now there is a petition, vehemently opposed on the floor by Senator Revilla, seeking to allow Sen. Leila de Lima to participate in Senate deliberations. De Lima is confined in the same PNP detention center, this time because of an ongoing case involving illegal drugs.
Revilla believes in equal treatment for members of the Senate, no double standards, and special privileges to a selected few. The law if applied to the goose must also apply to the gander.
The Senate is a deliberative body, and just like the House of Representatives, it takes care of its own. The chamber has protected, and still protects, its members from even legitimate enforcement of laws by the executive and the judiciary.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s take on this issue is that De Lima should be allowed to join the discourse, with the help of modern communications technology if possible. Lacson said had he been a senator when Revilla needed the same privilege, he would have supported it, too.
Revilla might reconsider if reminded that what De Lima wanted was just to participate in debates, and not to vote, for it would take a major revision of the Senate rules to allow a member who is not physically present to vote.
As Lacson pointed out, the problem is now with the Committee on Rules, and Revilla can very well stand up to shoot it when the issue reaches the plenary.