Barring of VIP guests on her 63rd birthday ‘regrettable,’ says De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — Former Senator Leila de Lima on Monday lamented the decision of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ban the entry of her guests as she celebrated her 63rd birthday in jail, adding that authorities could have been more lenient.
The PNP denied De Lima’s visitors admission, citing Memorandum Circular No. 2018-027, which specifies that a written request to visit a person in police custody must be issued 10 working days before the visit. On August 27, De Lima’s camp released the list.
“It’s regrettable that PNP authorities resorted to a strict technicality in justifying their barring of my VIP guests last Aug. 27,” said De Lima in a statement penned on Monday.
“They cited the 10-day prior notice requirement under PNP Memo-Circular No. 2018-027 as if it’s an inflexible rule when they know it’s not,” she added.
De Lima explained that her camp was still waiting for the guests’ confirmation, as they opted to send a complete list instead of individual submissions.
She continued by saying that on August 18 and later on August 19, they were drawn to preparing for the visit of a Congressional Delegation from the US.
“We fully recognize that the matter of approving requests like this is discretionary on the part of the PNP Chief or any other PNP official with delegated authority. But we were hoping that, given the circumstances, such discretion would be exercised on the side of liberality,” said De Lima.
De Lima said that their requests had previously been authorized despite failing to meet the criteria by the 10-day deadline.
“It’s unfortunate that the discretion of the approving authorities, this time, was imprudently exercised, thereby causing yet again another unnecessary ruckus, just like in the case of the earlier US Congressional Delegation visit,” said De Lima.
“Once again, I express my profound apology to my esteemed friends and allies who were denied entry for any inconvenience this has caused. My heartfelt thanks also for their unceasing support,” she added.
De Lima had been detained since February 24, 2017, less than a year since President Rodrigo Duterte became the president of the Philippines, for drug charges that her camp said were “trumped up.”