Senator Leila M. de Lima today questioned the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) refusal to allow ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) delegates to visit her despite complying with the required notice rule.
De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte regime, said preventing the visiting lawmakers from seeing her only shows the administration’s unwavering determination on persecuting her, which is reminiscent of the fascist dictatorship.
In her Dispatch from Crame No. 166 and a day before the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law during the Marcos dictatorship, the Senator shared her immediate reaction upon learning that the APHR delegates were barred from seeing her was “Martial Law na ba?”
“Why is this regime doing this? They have already incarcerated me based on trumped-up drug charges, persecuted me with all the lies to destroy my dignity and womanhood, and now, they are denying my visitors, in particular, foreign leaders, to speak with me,” she said.
“Why was there no action on the request of the APHR delegation which was a virtual denial of such request? Was it because of the strong statement APHR issued sometime last month, and reiterated at a presscon yesterday, denouncing my unjust detention and calling for my immediate, unconditional release?” she added.
Malaysian Parliament Members Tian Chua and Charles Santiago, along with fellow APHR members, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. and Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, waited outside the Custodial Center for an hour in the hope that a decision to grant their entry would be issued but to no avail.
The visiting delegates submitted their request last Sept. 6, more than the required 10-day notice before visiting the senator. Without providing reason for the denied access, the police simply told the papers got stuck at the level of the PNP-Office of the Directorate for Intelligence Services.
Note that in the period of the so-called democratic high in the Philippines in 1986, Filipino people joined forces in the People Power Revolution to end the 21-year authoritarian rule of then President Marcos. Duterte’s rise to power however calls to mind the Marcos dictatorship.
De Lima maintained she will not be “cowed” despite continuous efforts by the Duterte regime to silence her.
“I brace for more acts of repression as this regime parries mounting public outrage and protest actions over successive and pervasive issues of incompetence, corruption and impunity. But I will not be cowed,” she said.
This is not the first time that a foreign visitor was barred from visiting the Senator. Last July, Liberal International President Juli Minoves was also prevented from seeing De Lima due to an “administrative excuse.”
De Lima, who has since been subject of shameful and misogynistic attacks by the President, continues to gain support from international groups and leaders despite efforts of the administration to tarnish her reputation.