SEN. Leila de Lima accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of denying foreign human rights advocates access to meet her inside her cell, saying this legitimizes “oppression and political persecution.”
“Since there was no action on their request duly made even beyond the 10-day prior notice rule, these foreign dignitaries were effectively denied access to me,” De Lima said in a statement on Tuesday, 10 days after the supposed visit.
“What’s happening? These cannot be mere instances of administrative lapses and/or incompetence on the part of PNP authorities. It’s already a deliberate policy of oppression and violation of my rights,” said de Lima who was scheduled to meet last Nov. 11 delegates of the Global Progressive Forum (GPF) led by President Enrique Guerrero Salom and Robert Hans Neuser, both members of the European Parliament.
The GPF was the third group of international visitors who were barred from visiting de Lima after Dr. Juli Minoves, president of the Liberal International (LI), and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Parliament for Human Rights (APHR).
De Lima also decried the PNP’s failure to accord even the courtesy of a formal response to her guests’ requests.
She maintained there were no reasons to deny the foreign delegates their right to visit and check on her condition because there was no rule or law that banned such visits.
“These are not terrorists or in any way threats to national security or public order. These are dignitaries of considerable stature in their respective countries, and even globally as members of the Global Progressive Forum. This is so wrong and unjust,” de Lima said.
“I demand respect for my rights, among them visitors’ access, as a detention prisoner who is constitutionally presumed innocent, as I am truly innocent, and as a sitting and working Senator of the Republic,” de Lima said.
On February 24, De Lima, one of the staunchest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte and his war on drugs, was detained on “drug-related” charges.
International human rights groups like the European Parliament and the Amnesty International called for de Lima’s release as they believed that she was a “prisoner of conscience” and that the charges against her were “fabricated”. RJ CARBONELL