After initially being denied by the Philippine National Police (PNP), members of the delegation from the United States Congress led by Senator Edward Markey were finally allowed to visit detained former senator Leila de Lima at the Custodial Center of the PNP in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday, August 19.
“The Philippine National Police (PNP) has facilitated the visitation privileges to members of the delegation from the US Congress led by US Senator Markey to see former Senator Leila de Lima today, August 19, 2022 at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame,” Police Brig. Gen. Augustus Alba, chief of PNP public information office, told reporters.
The visiting American lawmakers were subjected to Covid-19 screening and health assessment at Camp Crame before they were allowed to see de Lima, Alba noted.
The eight-member delegation arrived at noontime and left around 1:15 p.m.
No other details of the visit were divulged to the press as of this writing.
The PNP Headquarters Support Service, which manages the Custodial Center, earlier rejected the planned visit of the US lawmakers to de Lima on Thursday, citing the lack of permit from concerned judicial authorities and in consideration of the prevailing Covid-19 situation at Camp Crame.
In response, the foreign delegates sought an extremely urgent motion before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) so they would be allowed to visit the embattled former senator.
Hon. Romeo Buenaventura, presiding judge of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256, and Hon. Abraham Joseph Alcantara, presiding judge of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204, who have jurisdiction over the drug-related cases of de Lima, granted the extremely urgent motion early Friday.
Markey has been a staunch supporter of de Lima since she was detained in 2017.
De Lima, a fierce critic of the previous Duterte administration and its bloody drug war, was incarcerated when the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed three cases against her which stemmed from her alleged participation in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison during her term as the Justice Secretary. One of the cases had already been dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
Since Duterte stepped down from office in June of this year, several key witnesses against De Lima have recanted their claims implicating the former senator to illegal drug activities including self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos, and former aide Ronnie Dayan.