The Philippines: Rights group slams PNP for barring visits to political detainees, demands explanation

MANILA, Philippines — The human rights organization Karapatan slammed the Philippine National Police for barring two of its officers and several others from visiting political prisoners detained at the custodial center in Camp Crame and demanded an explanation for the move.

In a âconfidentialâ memorandum dated December 27, Chief Superintendent Charles Calima Jr., head of the PNP directorate for intelligence, cited unspecified âderogatory record/informationâ€for dropping six persons, including Karapatanâs Cristina Palabay, the groupâs secretary general, and Ivy Joy Valencia, from a scheduled visit to the political prisoners on December 29.

A copy of the memorandum, obtained by Karapatan, was furnished

The others who were not allowed to visit were Rey Claro Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center, Nenet Gonzaga, Peter Gonzales and Petra Venus Villegas.

They were among a group of 17 that sought clearance to visit political detainees Eduardo Sarmiento, Ramon Argente, Renante Gamara and Eduardo Serrano, all consultants of the National Democratic Front, for a Christmas party.

Palabay said Karapatan chair Marie Hilao-Enriquez was also barred from the visit even if she is an independent observer to the peace talks between government and the NDF, which represents communist rebels in the peace talks.

Aside from barring the six and Hilao-Enriquez, Calima, in his memorandum, also ordered the Camp Crame commander to âprovide security/monitoring personnel to ensure the security during the said visitation and submit to the directorate an after activity report.”

Palabay demanded that the PNP âexplain the supposedly confidential memorandum and said Karapatan would file a complaint over âjail policies which curtail the rights of political prisoners, human rights and peace advocates.â