For more than an hour on Monday, members of the House of Representatives independent minority discussed with a ‘pale and thinner’ Senator Leila de Lima various current issues, including President Rodrigo Duterte’s stand on China’s war threat and rejection of European Union grants.
First to arrive at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center before 10 a.m. was Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice. He was also first to leave before 11 a.m. as he had other appointments.
He said the conversation was very light and casual.
“‘Yung visit namin sa kanya very light lang yung conversation, wala namang mga issues na napag-usapan except ‘yung sabi niya na si Senate President Koko (Pimentel) inaasahan niya na tutulungan siya bilang ama ng Senado na mapagbigyan ‘yung request niya na tuwing may importante lang naman na issue mapayagan siya makaboto for example death penalty, tax reforms,” Erice told reporters outside the detention facility.
He said he noticed that De Lima was thinner and paler compared to when he last saw her.
“Parang pumayat siya nang kaunti, medyo parang maputla siya ‘yun ang napansin ko,” he said.
He added that De Lima senator mentioned that the Custodial Center is now imposing stricter security measures.
“Two weeks ago lalong naging mas mahigpit ngayon. Dati nakakapasok sa quarters niya ngayon sa reception area na lang,” he quoted De Lima as saying.
Others who visited the senator were Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Ifugao Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr., Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Northern Samar Rep. Raul Daza and Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano.
Alejano said they updated De Lima of the current situation.
He said they had a consensus that Duterte should have raised a howl over China’s threat.
“Consensus kami na talagang hindi akma iyon, una maniwala ba tayo sa sinasabi ng Presidente? Pangalawa kung sinabi man yan, bakit hindi tayo mag-assert. ‘Yung iba nga niremind lang tayo doon ssa human rights issue nagwawala na ‘yung Pangulo, itong tine-threaten na tayo ng war, walang sinabi ang Pangulo at wala tayong magawa,” he said.
He added that the government should not be silent amid such threats.
“Sa lahat ng mga pagkakataon kung saan mailalagay yung ating interest sa alanganin dapat nagreraise tayo ng diplomatic protest. Hindi pwedeng tahimik tayo kasi hindi nagpapatunay ‘yun ng independent foreign policy on our part. Kung independent foreign policy ang ating tinatahak, balance ho tayo pati sa China. So nakita ho natin na talagang subservient ang Pangulo sa China,” he said.
He further said they believe that the grant of EU is not bound by conditions but common goals.
“Ang grant sa EU hindi naman yan condition sa atin, in fact, common goals natin yan, signatories tayo sa different treaties and agreements katulad ng human rights. Signatory tayo diyan, hindi naman kailangang pilitin tayo na sundin ‘yan, tayo mismo kahit sa Constitution natin dapat ay inoobserve natin ‘yan,” he said.
“Bago pa man nagkaroon ng agreement o inimplement iyan o nagbigay ng aid, pumirma tayo, hindi naman ibig sabihin na brinaso tayo dyan and the same is true sana with China, naging transparent din ang agreement natin sa kanila at hindi dapat yung at the expense of our national interest and national security,” he added.
Another member of Magnificent, Akbayan Rep. Tomasino Villarin, was not allowed to enter the custodial center as he failed to confirm his attendance.
“I was out of town, dumating ako ng madaling araw at humabol ako rito para makasama . ‘Yun nga lang dahil very strict ‘yung rules hindi ako pinayagan na pumasok,” he told reporters.
He said it will not be the last time that they will visit De Lima. — RSJ, GMA News