HUMAN rights advocates from the European Parliament (EP) were prevented from visiting Sen. Leila de Lima in her detention cell on Saturday as they vowed to help free her.
“We were ready to visit de Lima. We asked for permission. We didn’t get the permission. We were disappointed,” European Parliament (EP) member Enrico Guerrero Salom from Spain said in a press briefing.
Salom was one of the members of the EP Subcommittee on Human Rights, which attempted to visit the senator in her cell at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
This is the third time that foreign visitors were barred from seeing de Lima who is being detained on drug charges.
On September 20, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Parliament for Human Rights (APHR) delegates were also not permitted to visit the senator.
In July, Liberal International (LI) President Juli Minoves was also prevented from seeing de Lima.
“We’ll do everything to get de Lima free,” Norbert Hans Neuser of Germany said.
Fhillip Sawali, chief of staff of de Lima, said that restrictions imposed on de Lima’s visitors were getting tighter.
He said prison staff were now asking for more requirements when visiting the senator.
“There are a lot of restrictions like asking for itineraries and biographies of visitors. Even confidential documents are being confiscated. That is invasion of privacy,” Sawali said.
The Global Progressive Forum (GPF) said it submitted a permission paper on October 26 to the office of PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa to allow delegates from EP to visit de Lima. The custodial center requires visitors to submit permit papers at least 10 days before the visit.
The permission paper was submitted 16 days prior to the visit.
The EP has adamantly pressed the Philippine government to release de Lima and allow her to perform her Senate duties while awaiting trial for “trumped-up” illegal drugs charges filed against her.
Alex Padilla, de Lima’s lawyer, shared the same sentiment. He said de Lima’s camp was planning to file administrative charges against the police but was still thinking things through so that the senator would not be accused of “antagonizing” authorities.
“We just have been with de Lima this morning. She’s in good health. But there’s a problem with her isolation and restrictions against her,” Padilla said.
During their visit to the Philippines, the EP delegation met with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, and Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. They also met with Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Risa Hontiveros.