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PNP denies visits for detained ex-senator De Lima's birthday

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PNP denies visits for detained ex-senator De Lima's birthday
This photo of former Sen. Leila de Lima was taken on July 29, 2022 after the hearing at Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 204.
Office of Leila De Lima / release

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:06 p.m.) — The Philippine National Police on Saturday morning denied a host of political personalities access to visit detained former senator Leila de Lima on her birthday. 

First reported by ABS-CBN News, De Lima's camp said that only De Lima's brother Vicente was allowed a visit to the detained ex-senator, a staunch critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte. The rest were denied. 

Economist and former socioeconomic planning secretary Solita Monsod said in a tweet that the group had sent their request for a visit to the PNP weeks ago and only got clear disapproval verbally when they showed up in person. 

Among those who were barred from visiting De Lima were: 

  • Sen. Risa Hontiveros 
  • Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay 1st District) 
  • Julia Abad, former chief of staff of late president Noynoy Aquino
  • Antonio Carpio, former Supreme Court justice 
  • Conchita Carpio-Morales, former Supreme Court jusdtice 
  • Lawyer Chel Diokno, human rights lawyer and senatorial candidate 
  • Franklin Drilon, former senator 
  • Winnie Monsod, former socioeconomic planning secretary
  • Lawyer Christian Monsod, Constitution framer 
  • Mar Roxas, former Interior Secretary and presidential candidate 
  • Tom Villarin, former Akbayan representative 

"It is outrageous! We were on our way to visit Leila de Lima on her birthday when our request made weeks ago was just now verbally disapproved. I and my husband [and] others all barred. Too much! She’s not convicted, not allowed a phone, and now this!" she said. 

"What is the legal basis for denying Sen. Leila de Lima visitors on her birthday? Why the utter lack of compassion by the PNP? Who gave the orders to bar her visitors?" Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary-general Renato Reyes also said in a tweet. 

Philstar.com sought an explanation from the PNP through its public information officer, Police Brig. Gen. Roderick Alba and spokesperson Police Col. Jean Fajardo. This story will be updated with their response. 

In a statement issued later Saturday, Lagman said that the group was told De Lima’s pending request for their visit was disapproved while only immediate relatives were permitted to visit her.

But the PNP's decision was only communicated to De Lima earlier that same morning, he said. 

"Even during her birthday today, former Senator Leila de Lima is unreasonably deprived of the company of her closest friends and ardent defenders...every long day that passes with Sen. Leila still baselessly imprisoned tarnishes the human rights record of the Philippines," Lagman said. 

"We hope that this would be the last time Sen. De Lima will have her birthday in prison because every birthday in odious captivity is grossly tragic and an utter disaster for Philippine democracy and the rule of law.”

Earlier in August, lawmakers from the United States were also initially barred from visiting the jailed former senator after the PNP also failed to respond to their requests. Two Muntinlupa courts eventually granted their requests later on. 

“Interaction with any specific person under police custody is subject to express permission of the concerned judicial authorities, with due consideration of the prevailing COVID-19 situation in Camp Crame,” the PNP said then in a statement. 

At least three personalities, including a government star witness, have retracted their allegations linking De Lima to illegal drugs and have since admitted that their testimonies were false and were made due to threats. The Office of the Ombudsman also recently cleared her in a bribery complaint.

Despite this, De Lima has breached 2,000 days in detention. Government lawyers have also said they are not dropping charges against De Lima, who has been acquitted in one of three drug cases.

 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

LEILA DE LIMA

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

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