PNP barred lawyer, staff from visiting De Lima, her office says
After about an hour of waiting, Human Rights Lawyer Atty. Chel Diokno (legal counsel), Fr. Flavie Villanueva (priest) and Atty. Fhillip Sawali (Senate Chief of Staff) were barred from visiting Senator Leila M. de Lima earlier June 5 at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Office of Sen.Leila de Lima/Released
PNP barred lawyer, staff from visiting De Lima, her office says
Kristine Joy Patag ( - June 5, 2020 - 2:16pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police barred the lawyer and staff of Sen. Leila de Lima from visiting her at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, the senator’s office said.

In a statement Friday, De Lima’s office said that her chief of staff, lawyer Fhilip Sawali, veteran rights lawyer Chel Diokno and priest Father Flavie Villanueva were turned away at the PNP.

“We are in Camp Crame for [De Lima]. But when we entered the Custodial Center, we were not allowed to visit. We were told to wait for our request from [higher office],” Diokno was quoted as saying in Filipino.

De Lima’s office said the lawmaker has not seen anyone from outside the Custodial Center for over a month, since April 25.

Diokno pointed out that Republic Act 7438 states that the lawyer, priest or family of the detained have the right to visit.

Sawali, for his part, said in Filipino: “This is not allowed in Constitution. This is called incommunicado detention.”

Diokno and Sawali urged the PNP to “remove the unreasonable restrictions” imposed against De Lima.

PNP: Restrictions still in place

Minority senators earlier wrote to Police General Archie Gamboa to lift the restrictions, as they stressed that the PNP Custodial Center’s action is “unconstitutional, illegal and violates a cardinal precept of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that solitary confinement and incommunicado detention are universally outlawed.”

In a report by ABS-CBN news online on May 28, Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said that visits are temporarily restricted under enhanced community quarantine and modified ECQ.

But Quezon City, and the rest of Metro Manila, transitioned to the looser general community quarantine on June 1.

In a message to, Banac said restrictions, including visitation, are still in place “as part of PNP custodial facilities biosafety measures to prevent spread of COVID-19.”

He also cited the spike of COVID-19 infections at the Bureau of Corrections that reported 222 confirmed cases on Thursday.

The PNP spokesman appealed for understanding and stressed that the prohibition of visits is only temporary. He also added that phone calls are still allowed despite restriction.

Banac explained they still cannot say when the visitation restrictions will be lifted. “This will depend on prevailing health risks as determined by IATF and health authorities.”

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