The Subommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament (EP) was not permitted again on Saturday to visit Senator Leila de Lima in her cell at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
This was the third time that international visitors were barred from visiting De Lima. On September 20, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Parliament for Human Rights (APHR) delegates were also not permitted to visit the senator.
In July, Liberal International President Juli Minoves was also prevented from seeing De Lima.
“We were ready to visit De Lima. We asked for permission. We didn’t get the permission. We were disappointed,” EP member Enrico Guerrero Salom from Spain said in a press briefing.
The Global Progressive Forum (GPF) 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 more than 10 days before visits.
The permission paper was submitted 16 days prior to the visit.
EP has adamantly pressed the Philippine government to release De Lima and allow her to perform her Senate duties while she awaits trial for “trumped-up” illegal drug charges filed against her.
“We’ll do everything to get De Lima free,” EP member from Germanay Norbert Hans Neuser said.
Fhillip Sawali, chief of staff of De Lima, revealed that the security barring De Lima from visitors is getting stricter. He said prison staff are 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.
Alex Padilla, De Lima’s lawyer, also shared the same sentiment. He said De Lima’s camp is planning to file administrative charges against the police. However, they are still thinking things through so as not to say the senator is “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 Allan Peter Cayetano. They also met with Senators Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and Risa Hontiveros.