Press Release
June 6, 2020

Dispatch from Crame No. 817:
Sen. Leila M. de Lima's Statement on Her Continued Incommunicado Detention

It is now Day 6 of GCQ in NCR. Still, there is no change in the no visitors policy here at the PNP Custodial Center. For one (1) month and 11 days already, I remain inaccessible to anyone, save for the custodial personnel.

Yesterday morning, my Chief-of-Staff, Atty. Fhillip Sawali, Atty. Chel Diokno, one of my legal counsels, and Fr. Flavie Villanueva, one of my spiritual advisers, were barred entry. In the afternoon, my brother-doctor who is one of my listed personal physicians was also not allowed entry.

Earlier, or on May 31, Pentecost Sunday, Fr. Robert Reyes, another spiritual adviser, failed in his bid to see me.

I wonder what's keeping the PNP authorities from fulfilling their commitment to ease up the restrictions once the quarantine level was downgraded from MECQ to GCQ. PNP Chief Archie Francisco F. Gamboa was quoted as saying that they would re-assess the existing "standard" policy.

What is there to re-assess when all constitutional, legal, practical and humanitarian considerations all warrant the lifting of the incommunicado detention and restrictions?

In explicit terms, the 1987 Constitution proscribes any form of solitary confinement or incommunicado detention.

Visits from family members, lawyers, doctors, and priests are not a mere privilege but a right guaranteed under R.A. 7438, or the "Act Defining Certain Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation, Etc.", subject only to reasonable regulations. Such visits cannot be totally barred. Prolonged indefinite suspension of visitation rights under the guise of COVID-19-related precautionary measures, even when there is already relative easing up of restrictions of activities under a GCQ, is no longer reasonable as it is disproportionate and arbitrary. It is never a "standard" policy.

There is no rational basis for PNP authorities to insist on the so-called "standard" policy, and follow the lead of other jails and correctional facilities that are also currently under total lockdown. As we keep on stressing, unlike in other jails, there is zero congestion and zero COVID-19 cases here. There are very few PDLs in the Facility. Hence, physical distancing is no problem at all. Besides, I am in an isolated detention quarters here. Alone.

I am unable to see any family member, particularly my children, grandchildren and siblings in the past weeks. For someone who has been unjustly deprived of liberty for more than 3 years already, occasional visits from my family and loved ones are an irreplaceable source of hope and strength. I have effectively been in an involuntary quarantine beginning February 2017. With this strict no access policy in place under ECQ and MECQ, and extended up to the current GCQ, I am now under quarantine within a quarantine!

As a detained working Senator, I can only fulfill, as I have been fulfilling, my mandate inside my detention quarters and not in my Senate office. Regular access to me by my staff within the allowable visiting hours was never a problem until April 25, when the total lockdown was enforced.

I now handle all by myself the preparation and sending out of various documents on a daily basis without direct staff assistance.

I have no complaints vis-a-vis the custodial personnel who are generally professional and courteous in the discharge of their custodial duties. The problem is with the higher approving authorities whose one-track mentality causes them to impose unreasonable and unwarranted restrictions under an erroneous or misguided application of IATF quarantine guidelines, oblivious of the actual situation within the Custodial Center.

Plainly, what PNP authorities are doing to me is disrespect to me and my status as a duly elected and working senator. It smacks of oppression.

Nasaan ang puso nila?

The PNP should end my incommunicado detention immediately, as well as that of the other PDLs at the PNP Custodial Center! They should respect and uphold our constitutional and human rights!

(Access the handwritten version of Dispatch from Crame No. 817, here:


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