The delegates of the Global Progressive Forum (GPF) today expressed dismay over the effective denial by the PNP to allow them to visit Senator Leila M. de Lima in her detention center in Camp Crame.
GPF President Enrique Guerrero Salom, along with Robert Hans Neuser, both of whom are members of the European Parliament, were barred from visiting De Lima despite complying with the 10-day required notice rule.
“We asked permission [from the PNP] in order to visit her and we are disappointed with the result… We are concerned with the situation of Senator De Lima,” Salom said during a press conference before the media.
“We fully respect the Philippine legal regulations, but we think that there are enough [reasons] to release Senator De Lima and to allow her to play her role as a Senator representing the people of this country because she has been elected by the people,” he added.
The foreign delegates, who came to the Philippines to meet with De Lima and learn about the latest evolution on her case as well as participate in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference, have submitted their request to see the Senator as early as Oct. 26 but to no avail.
According to Atty. Alex Padilla, De Lima’s legal counsel, the PNP claimed the request papers got stuck at the level of the Office of the Directorate for Intelligence Services.
“We’ve been doing it all by the book. Actually, there are additional requirements required of the foreign visitors. Dapat ibigay ang pangalan, itinerary, biography, which are all invasions of the privacy of these individuals pero we still complied with it,” Padilla explained.
“They asked for 10 working days, we gave them 15. We filed it as early as Oct. 26 but to this day it sits at the Office of the Directorate for Intelligence Services. PNP’s inaction is tactical denial of her rights to be visited,” he added.
Neuser and Salom, along with Paolo Alberti, who is in charge of GPF Press & Communications, vowed to continue supporting De Lima until the government decides to drop all politically motivated charges against her.
“We can promise you that we will continue to do everything to get De Lima free,” Neuser maintained.
This is not the first time that an international visitor was barred from visiting the Senator.
Last July and September, respectively, Liberal International (LI) president Juli Minoves and The ASEAN Parliament for Human Rights (APHR) delegates led by its Chairperson Charles Santiago, a member of the Parliament of Malaysia, were also prevented from seeing De Lima despite submitting the requirement asked by the PNP
De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte regime, earlier said preventing the visiting foreign delegates from seeing her only shows the administration’s unwavering determination on persecuting her.
“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.
She however vowed to “not be cowed” and continue her advocacies for human rights and the rule of law despite continuous efforts by the Duterte regime to silence her.
The Senator from Bicol, 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.