US delegation visits De Lima after court approvals

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2022 02:43 PM

Sen. Leila de Lima arrives for her hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City on June 13, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file
Sen. Leila de Lima arrives for her hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City on June 13, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — A US Congressional delegation led by Sen. Edward Markey was finally able to visit detained former Philippine senator Leila de Lima on Friday with the approval of 2 Muntinlupa courts.

The US delegation, composed of 8 officials, arrived at Camp Crame around noon, shortly after the court orders were issued. The visit lasted for around an hour. 

Markey and US Congressmen Alan Lowenthal, John Garamendi, Don Beyer and Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen were barred by the Philippine National Police from visiting De Lima on Thursday due to lack of court approval.

The visit is meant to discuss “the progress of the remaining cases filed against the former Senator, her current situation, and experiences in the more than five and a half years of her continued unjust detention,” according to a press release.

The motions for the visit were filed Thursday afternoon and granted Friday, Aug. 19.

The prosecution did not object to the visit.

No media and social media coverage or audio and video recording were allowed.

The visit also has to comply with PNP guidelines on safety and health protocols.

De Lima, in her motion, said Markey had written to the PNP leadership as early as Aug. 9 and she had also sent a letter on Aug. 10 to coordinate the visit, but said the PNP did not act on it.

Under PNP guidelines, a foreigner should send a letter of intent to the PNP chief 2 weeks before the visit, endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Markey has been a vocal supporter of De Lima, joining calls for her release and supporting the enforcement of the Magnitsky Act barring those responsible for De Lima’s detention from entering the US.

De Lima, who was a vocal critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte and his drug war, has been detained on illegal drug charges since February 2017. One of the charges has been junked while two others are still pending.

De Lima said the charges are politically motivated.

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