US Senator Edward Markey, other US lawmakers permitted to visit Leila de Lima

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United States Senator Edward Markey meets with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacañang Palace on Thursday, August 18, 2022. Marcos vows to continue a strong partnership with the US. (Photo: Bongbong Marcos/Facebook)
United States Senator Edward Markey meets with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the Malacañang Palace on Thursday, August 18, 2022. Marcos vows to continue a strong partnership with the US. (Photo: Bongbong Marcos/Facebook)

Senator Edward J. Markey and other United States (US) lawmakers' request to visit detained former Sen. Leila de Lima has been greenlighted by a trial court in the Philippines on Friday (August 19).

According to the decision, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 has granted the Extremely Urgent Motion Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam, and the US lawmakers were finally permitted to pay de Lima a visit granting that they will observe the safety and health protocols imposed by the Philippine National Police (PNP), and no media or any form of social platform coverage will be allowed during the visit.

On Thursday (August 18), citing the lack of a court order to permit the visit and the growing COVID situation in the area, the delegation was prevented from visiting de Lima in her detention camp in Camp Crame. A motion to allow the lawmakers to visit was filed before the court the same afternoon.

In a report by Rappler, Philippine National Police (PNP) Public Information Office chief Brig. Gen. Roderick Augustus Alba that the planned visit was denied by the PNP headquarters support service.

“The PNP will extend utmost courtesy and assistance to a foreign delegation from the US Senate that will check on the conditions at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, consistent with existing guidelines and procedures on visitorial privileges in the detention facility,” they said.

“However, such accommodation excludes direct interaction with any Person Under Police Custody (PUPC) confined in the detention facility, particularly PUPC committed by the Court to PNP custody. Such interaction with any specific PUPC is subject to express permission of the concerned judicial authorities, with due consideration of the prevailing COVID-19 situation in Camp Crame that currently has 15 active cases and one new case as of today,” the police spokesperson added.

The delegation also included Representatives Alan Lowenthal and John Garamendi of California, Don Beyer of Virginia, and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen of American Samoa.

Markey, who is also the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific, is among the bipartisan group of US Senators calling for de Lima’s release since 2017, along with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Chris Coons of Delaware, Marco Rubio of Florida, and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

“Clearly, the bogus charges against her were, as we suspected all along, politically motivated and based on false information. That she has lost five years in jail due to these spurious charges is a travesty,” read the six senators’ statement.

After the delegation’s failed attempt to visit, they met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the afternoon.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the US in the areas of renewable energy use, agricultural development, economic reform, and mitigation of drug problem,” Marcos said in a Facebook post.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments on politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.

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