MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Saturday denied allegations that government forces have been violating the human rights of detained Sen. Leila de Lima by barring her from media interviews during her court appearances.
PNP Human Rights Affairs Office head Chief Supt. Dennis Siervo made the response in light of a Commission on Human Rights statement saying De Lima "has consistently been heavily guarded and covered by police escorts with their extended hands in attempt to hide her from the public and media during her attendance at court hearings."
De Lima, a staunch administration critic, has been detained at the PNP Custodial Center since February 2017 on drug charges and regularly appears in court.
"Walang pagkakaiba 'yan sa loob siya ng custodial facility, dadalhin lang siya ng korte, along the way hindi mo siya dapat i-ambush interview," PNP Human Rights Affairs Office head Chief Superintendent Dennis Siervo told ABS-CBN News.
(It's no different from when she's inside the custodial facility, she is brought the court, along the way you can't interview her.)
"'Yan naman ang ginagawa kay Janet Napoles, kay Bong Revilla, kay Enrile, anong sinasabi na hindi patas o istrikto sa kaniya?" Siervo said, referring to others formerly held at the PNP Custodial Center.
(That's what we did with Janet Napoles, Bong Revilla, Enrile, so why are they saying we're unfair and that we're stricter when it comes to her?)
De Lima is also being treated well inside her 20.9-square meter cell, which he pointed out is four times bigger than the United Nations' standard measurement for jail cells, he said.
De Lima has her own mini library, mini garden and an area for recreation and exercise, he said.
She also has personal staff who takes care of her needs inside the facility, he said.
"According to Senator De Lima, sabi niya, relatively satisfied and comfortable naman siya doon sa custodial facility," said Supt. Ramil Santos, who led an inspection at De Lima's cell.
(Senator De Lima has said she is relatively satisfied and comfortable inside her custodial facility.)
"Sabi pa niya nagi-guilty pa nga siya dahil siya maganda ang custodial facility niya compared sa mga nakakulong sa mga BJMP (Bureau of Jail Management and Penology) at sa mga police stations na talagang congested," he said.
(She even said she feels guilty because her custodial facility is better compared to those detained at BJMP [facilities] and police stations where it is really congested.)
Siervo dared CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia to formally file complaints against the PNP.
"Gumagawa siya talaga ng istorya. Open ang opisina ko bakit hindi sila magpunta pag-usapan namin?" he said.
(She's making up stories. My office is open, why isn't she coming to discuss this?)
"File the complaint first in writing to the PNP, hanggang ngayon wala namang pina-file na complaint tungkol as pagtrato ke De Lima," he said.
(File the complaint first in writing to the PNP, until now we haven't received a complaint about De Lima's treatment.)
De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame over drug trafficking charges which stemmed from the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison during her time as justice chief. She has called her detention political persecution.
ABS-CBN News sought comment from De Lima's camp but has yet to receive a response as of this posting.
- with a report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News