Jailed senator De Lima may vote in Chief Justice impeachment trial

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Chief Justice

Jailed senator Leila de Lima may be able to participate and vote in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III has said it would take a vote of two-thirds of the 23 remaining members of the Senate to convict Sereno at her impeachment trial.

His tally excludes Alan Peter Cayetano, who resigned after accepting his appointment as foreign affairs secretary, but includes De Lima who is detained at Camp Crame facing drug charges.

Pimentel said that De Lima may secure permission from the courts to attend the senate trial and — if she is prepared and well versed with the issues involved — she can cast her vote at the trial’s conclusion.

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“Senator De Lima is still a member of the Senate. Who knows, she may be allowed to go out of detention. So you do not disqualify her just because she is detained. Who knows when we reach halfway or at the end of the trial she might be there,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has previously said that all 24 members of the Senate should be used as the basis for the two-thirds count of the votes in the trial.

Pimentel said that whether it was 23 or 24, the required vote was practically the same.

“With 24 it’s 16. Here (at 23) it’s 15.33 and there’s no such thing as one-third of a person,” he said.

Pimentel admitted that the decision of the senators would not be based purely on evidence, but also the “pulse of the people” — although he vowed to give Sereno a fair trial.

With preparations for the trial underway, Pimentel urged his colleagues to study the rules of the trial, in which they will sit as judges.

Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, meanwhile, has expressed concern that the trial might hamper the senate’s other vital work.

“Not excited on the impeachment,” he said, “because I am worried that vital legislation in the final process of passage might be affected. On the committees I handle, bills on universal healthcare and the creation of department of housing might be stalled.”

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