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De Lima's lawyer, advisers still barred from visiting her in Crame amid GCQ


Senator Leila De Lima, detained in Camp Crame, was still barred from receiving any visitors on Friday due to the strict policy being enforced at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

Her lawyer Chel Diokno, spiritual adviser Fr. Flavie Villanueva, and chief of staff Fhillip Sawali attempted to visit her in hopes that they will be allowed since Metro Manila already shifted to a general community quarantine last June 1.

They waited for an hour to no avail of seeing the detained senator.

"The last time anyone from Sen. De Lima's camp was allowed to see the detained senator personally was April 25, 2020," De Lima's office said in a statement.

"This confirms the incommunicado detention of De Lima, a gross violation of her Constitutional rights as well as international human rights principles against unreasonable restrictions on the right of meaningful contact with the outside world," it added.

In an interview, Diokno said prohibiting the visits for De Lima is a violation of the law.

"Nung kami’y pumasok sa Custodial Center ay hindi kami pinayagang bumisita. Sabi daw ay hintayin daw namin 'yung request sa itaas. 'Yan ay sabihin ninyo labag sa batas natin... may right to visit ang lawyer, ang priest, at ang pamilya ng mga detained," he said.

"Dapat ay igalang nila ang karapatang pantao ng lahat, at si Sen. Leila naman ay presumed innocent dahil naka-pending pa lang naman ang kaso niya. She should be treated as such," he added.

PNP spokesman Police Brigadier General Bernard Banac said visiting restrictions are still in effect at the PNP Custodial Center to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"BuCor has reported a spike in number of PDLs found positive with COVID-19. We don't want the same thing to happen in our custodial facilities," he said.

Banac ensured that the prohibition of visits is only temporary.

Sawali expressed his frustrations as he underscored that it has been 41 days since they physically saw De Lima.

"Dahil po na siya’y senador, working senator po siyang naka-upo, ang tanging paraan lang po niya magtrabaho ay hindi sa Senado, sapagkat nakakulong nga po siya, kundi magtrabaho po dito sa PNP Custodial Center," Sawali said.

"Pero 'yun pong marinig ang hinihingi namin na siya po ay maasistihan, kahit limitadong panahon lang, kahit ilan-ilan lang sa aming staff, ay pinagkakait din po sa kanya," he added.

Last Saturday, De Lima's office confirmed that no one, except for personnel of the PNP Custodial Center, has seen or talked to the legislator for more than a month already.

"Our repeated requests for relaxation of the strict policy through grant of limited access, under strict terms and necessary health protocols, by family and staff have been denied by PNP authorities," the office said in a statement.

The PNP has confirmed that visits for De Lima had been "temporarily restricted."

"Visits are temporarily restricted under ECQ/MECQ as part of biosafety measures to prevent spread of Covid19 inside PNP camps and police stations," Banac earlier said.

Fellow minority senators of De Lima also wrote a letter to PNP chief Police General Archie Gamboa on May 23 and pointed out that it can be considered "incommunicado detention or solitary confinement" which is prohibited under the 1987 Constitution.

"This action of the PNP Custodial Center is unconstitutional, illegal, and violates a cardinal precept of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that solitary confinement and incommunicado detention are universally outlawed," the senators said.

De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration's drug war, was arrested in 2017 for drug-related charges she allegedly got involved in during her tenure as justice secretary. The senator has repeatedly asserted her innocence.—with reports from Anna Felicia Bajo/AOL, GMA News
 

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