The authorities from the Philippine National Police (PNP) custodial center allegedly “refused to act on” the request of some members of the European Parliament (EP) to visit detained Senator Leila De Lima, her camp said on Saturday.
“There was no direct denial but we think it’s tactical, they refused to act on the request,” De Lima’s counsel Atty. Alex Padilla said in a press conference.
In a letter addressed to PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa dated Oct. 26, EP members, who are also affiliated with the group Global Progressive Forum (GPF), requested to visit De Lima at the PNP detention facility inside Camp Crame in Quezon City.
“The custodial center authorities’ reason was they have yet to release the clearance despite the observance of the 10-day notice prior the intended visit,” Atty. Fhillip Sawali, one of De Lima’s staff members, said in a press conference.
The GPF’s purpose, according to the letter, was to “learn about the latest evolution in her case and express to her (their) support.”
The letter, which was received also on Oct. 26 at 4:00 p.m., included the list of the visiting delegates who are: Paolo Alberti of the Global Progressive Forum of Italy; Norbert Hans Neuser, member of European Parliament in Germany; and Enrique Salom member of European Parliament in Spain.
“We asked permission (from the PNP) in order to visit her and we are disappointed with the result… We are concerned with the situation of Senator De Lima,” Salom said.
“We fully respect the Philippine legal regulations, but we think that there are enough (reasons) to release Senator De Lima and to allow her to play her role as a senator representing the people of this country because she has been elected by the people,” he added.
Also indicated in the request were the short biographies of the three visitors, as well as their passport details, and itinerary. All of which are part of the PNP’s requirements for foreign nationals who would wish to visit De Lima at the custodial center, on top of the 10 working days’ notice prior to the intended visit.
The visit was requested more than 10 days prior the planned visit on Saturday, Nov.11.
De Lima was detained at the PNP facility since February due to drug-related charges, which she repeatedly claimed as “politically-motivated and trumped-up.”
This was not the first time that an international visitor was barred from visiting the senator, Sawali said.
Last July and September, respectively, Liberal International (LI) president Juli Minoves and The Asean Parliament for Human Rights (APHR) delegates led by its Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Parliament of Malaysia, were also barred from seeing De Lima despite submitting the requirement asked by the PNP.
De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte regime, earlier said preventing the visiting foreign delegates from seeing her “only shows the administration’s unwavering determination on persecuting her.”
“They have already incarcerated me based on trumped-up drug charges, persecuted me with all the lies to destroy my dignity and womanhood, and now they are denying my visitors, in particular, foreign leaders, to speak with me,” she said./jpv