MANILA -- Detained Sen. Leila de Lima said Tuesday she had given her seat at the Senate justice committee to Sen. Risa Hontiveros so that the latter can vote and fully join deliberations on the proposed revival of the death penalty.
De Lima said she cannot vote and wholly participate in Senate sessions and hearings because of her detention since February 2017 due to drug charges.
"I am relinquishing my membership in the Committee on Justice and Human Rights in favor of Sen. Risa Hontiveros," De Lima said in a statement.
"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.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday read De Lima's letter stating her decision to give up her post. Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri seconded Drilon's motion to elect Hontiveros as De Lima's replacement and there was no objection.
Last week, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian also gave up his seat at the committee in favor of Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, a former police chief who ran on the campaign promise of killing convicted drug lords.
President Rodrigo Duterte in his recent State of the Nation Address urged lawmakers to reinstate capital punishment for crimes related to narcotics.
Deliberations on the death penalty may take up to one year and a half, Gatchalian said.
Seven death penalty bills have been referred to the justice committee chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon. De Lima was expelled as chair of the panel after leading a probe into alleged state-sanctioned killings under Duterte's anti-narcotics drive, which the government denied.