PNP followed protocol on De Lima — DoJ

The Department of Justice over the weekend backed a decision of the Philippine National Police to deny the visitors of former senator Leila de Lima entry into her detention cell last 27 August.

The visitors wanted to celebrate with De Lima her 63rd birthday. According to DoJ spokesperson Mico Clavano, a court order should have been secured by those who wanted to visit De Lima.

He cited the case of a delegation from the United States which was allowed to visit De Lima after securing the necessary clearance from the courts hearing De Lima’s drug cases.

“Similar to US Senator (Ed) Markey, they (American lawmakers) were denied at first, but were granted visitation rights the day after they filed the motion. The courts are efficient. The PNP is merely following protocol,” Clavano said.

The PNP on Sunday said it denied a request from De Lima to receive additional visitors at her cell inside Camp Crame during her birthday because it was filed late.

P/Col. Mark Pespes, director of the PNP-Headquarters Support Service, said that under PNP Memorandum Circular 2018-027, a written request to visit a person in police custody must be made at least 10 working days before the date of visit.

But these would still need to be approved by the PNP chief for foreign requests and the PNP regional director for local requests, Pespes pointed out.

He said that in De Lima’s case, the request was made on the evening of 22 August or four days before the planned visit. De Lima has maintained that foreign delegates need not secure court clearance when visiting a detainee.

“The senator is aware that her request fell short of the required number of days stated in the memo, but the PNP Headquarters Support Service still made earnest efforts to process the request.

However, it couldn’t be approved on time,” he added.

Pespes said all requests are evaluated thoroughly for detainees availing of their constitutional right to be visited. He stressed, however, that the police memorandum has to be followed to the letter.

Among those who wanted to visit De Lima were retired Supreme Court senior associate justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Senator Risa Hontiveros and Albay Rep.

Edcel Lagman.

It was the sixth birthday of De Lima while in detention. She had been accused of using her position as justice secretary to take drug money through her alleged lover and driver at the time, Ronnie Dayan.

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