Lagman: Barring of De Lima visitors ‘flimsy and arbitrary’
MANILA, Philippines — Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has criticized as “flimsy and arbitrary” the Philippine National Police’s disapproval of his request to visit detained former Sen. Leila de Lima at Camp Crame for her 63rd birthday on Aug. 27.
The lawmaker pointed out that rules on visitation “must be tempered with justice and leniency” for De Lima, who is not yet convicted.
The PNP had argued that it disapproved the request for “purportedly having been filed less than 10 days before the intended visit.”
“Rules are not cast in stone and their application must be flexible, depending on relevant circumstances like who is the one requesting the visit, who are the invited visitors, and what is the occasion,” Lagman said.
He stressed that De Lima was “not a convicted felon” and that she “has the right to be visited by allies and defenders.”
“The invitees are known personalities who are not security risks or conspirators who have all been allowed to visit her before, and the occasion was a special day since it was her 63rd birthday. Verily, rules must be tempered with justice and leniency,” Lagman added.
Apart from him, also barred from visiting De Lima were former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Morales, former Sen. Franklin Drilon, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, lawyer Chel Diokno, former Commission on Elections head Christian Monsod and his wife economist Solita Monsod.
De Lima’s visitors separately arrived on Saturday morning at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Came, but were denied access to the former senator.
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 while on trial for illegal drug-related charges. This year was her sixth time to celebrate her birthday in detention, but only her brother Vicente was allowed to see her.
Physical visits at the PNP Custodial Center were halted in 2020 because of the pandemic. Last year, De Lima was also not allowed to receive guests, although she was blessed by two priests at the reception area.
On Aug. 19, a five-member congressional delegation from the United States, which was initially barred from seeing her managed to do so after securing a court order.
The PNP’s own rules do not require visitors to secure a court order to see persons under custody.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.