Guevarra believes de Lima should be given ‘election furlough’

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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday expressed belief that detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima should be allowed to exercise her right of suffrage in the May elections.

Guevarra noted that de Lima, who is now detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame on charges of illegal drugs, has “not been convicted of any crime, much less with finality.”

But Guevarra qualified that should courts grant de Lima’s request for an election furlough, security must be accorded to the embattled lawmaker.

“Security arrangements should, however, be put in place to ascertain the safe and orderly exercise of her right to vote,” he stated.

De Lima filed an urgent motion for furlough before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 under Judge Liezel Aquiatan, who was handling two of her illegal drugs charges.

De Lima asked the court to allow her to vote through “escorted detainee voting” at her voting precinct in Paranaque City. The prosecution did not object and the motion has been submitted for resolution.

Prior to the filing of the motion, de Lima wrote a letter to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to request if a polling place could be set up inside Camp Crame where she was currently detained.

However, the Comelec did not grant the request as the Omnibus Election Code bars any polling place to be located “within the perimeter of or inside a military or police camp or reservation.” It said De Lima could vote through escorted voting at her registered polling place in Paranaque.

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