LI president Minoves addresses media in front of Camp Crame alongside LI Human Rights Committee Chair Loening on Saturday, July 22, 2017. Liberal International / Friedrich Naumann Foundation, released

Palace: No politics in keeping Liberal Int'l head from seeing De Lima
Rosette Adel (philstar.com) - July 23, 2017 - 7:40am

MANILA, Philippines – “There is no need to add political color to an issue which has none.”

That was the reaction of Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella regarding the exclusion of Juli Minoves, president of Liberal International, from the list of people allowed to visit Sen. Leila De Lima in detention.

On Saturday, Minoves was barred from visiting De Lima at the Philippine National Police detention center in Camp Crame, Quezon City. His companions – Markus Loening, LI Human Rights Committee chairman and Wolfgang Heinze, president of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation-Philippines – were allowed to enter the detention facility.

The Palace has defended the police saying the authorities are just “strictly following protocols in the PNP Custodial Center,” where De Lima is being held on drug-related charges. She has repeatedly denied allegations that she received money from drug convicts at the New Bilibid Prison while she was Justice secretary.

“It is unfortunate that the name of Mr. Juli Minoves, president of LI, was not included in the list of approved visitors scheduled to see Senator Leila De Lima on that day,” Abella said.

“The companions of Mr. Minoves were allowed to enter the detention facility and see the good senator,” he added.

According to its website, Liberal International is "the world federation of liberal and progressive democratic political parties." It also said its members comprise "a broad range of progressive political parties, international organizations, cooperating organizations, think tanks and individuals."

Representatives of the European Union visited De Lima at Camp Crame on July 19.

Minoves protests being barred from custodial center

Minoves earlier condemned having been refused entry to the custodial center. He said he has informed the authorities of his impending visit since Monday while his colleagues only received approval on Saturday morning despite sending notice several days in advance.

 “I firmly protest. I think this shows exactly what the regime is doing, which basically detained Senator De Lima without the presumption of innocence,” Minoves said.

"The regime in the Philippines has abandoned even the appearance of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights. In preventing my meeting with Senator De Lima the authorities obviously did not like that we questioned human rights in the country at the United Nations last month,” he said in a statement.

“They said that they did not have the memo. Apparently, my colleagues have received the approval just this morning and it was sent many days ago,” Minoves also said.

For her part, De Lima felt ashamed, according to LI's Leonig. He said he believes the senator “felt very ashamed that a high-ranking visitor from overseas was not allowed to see her.”

De Lima joined Liberal International in 1989. It was one of the first international organizations to react to the news that the senator’s liberty was at risk

Liberal International subsequently coordinated Liberals and parliamentarians around the world to speak out in De Lima’s defense. It also wrote a formal statement to bring De Lima’s case to the United Nations Human Rights Council. 

De Lima has been detained at the Camp Crame since February for drug charges filed by the Department of Justice.

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