DELEGATES of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Parliament for Human Rights (APHR) were on Tuesday barred from visiting Sen. Leila de Lima in her cell at Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police.
APHR delegates Tian Chua and Charles Santiago were dismayed that they were not given the chance to speak with de Lima, saying they informed police officials of their intention to visit her on September 6.
“Seeking an appointment with a fellow legislator who has been incarcerated and is in detention is something that we want to do, and not allowing us to visit her actually further affirms our beliefs that she is unjustifiably detained,” Santiago said.
“I and my colleagues are very disappointed that our entry was not granted despite us giving an ample notice before the visit,” Chua, a Malaysian Parliament member, added.
Chua and Santiago, along with fellow APHR members Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. and Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, waited outside the custodial center for an hour.
Police officers failed to give a reason why the visit was turned down.
Chua said barring them from visiting showed that the administration was bent on prohibiting international organizations to show their support to de Lima.
“We believe that if the authorities have nothing to hide, and if the authorities are doing things according to the principle of transparency, then we should not be denied from interacting and paying our visit to show our regards to her,” he said.
This was not the first time that foreign visitors were barred from visiting de Lima. In July, Liberal International (LI) President Juli Minoves was also prevented from seeing De Lima.
Several international organizations, including APHR, had called for de Lima’s immediate release.