Visitation Rights Important to Improve Jail Facilities in the Philippines

By Shayne R. Burnham
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was reportedly denied agency visitation rights at Fort Bonifacio by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last week.  Their visitation, including lawmakers from the House of Representatives, was spawned by complaints by detained soldiers of their cell conditions.

CHR Chairperson Leila De Lima said Lieutenant Colonel Iluminado Lumakad, commanding officer of the Philippine Marine Corps Headquarters Battalion, refused to allow the CHR team to visit detained marine officers who plotted against the government in 2006.  Lima asserted that the CHR has a constitutional mandate that grants them visitation rights.

“The AFP has a lot of explaining to do. They do not have any authority in any capacity to prevent the CHR from conducting jail visitations. We need not have clearance from the higher ups just so we could visit detention cells throughout the country. Our constitutional mandate is clearly stated and that is what matters most,” De Lima said in her letter to Chief Alexander Yano of the AFP last week.

Lima and the CHR believes that it is important to allow for unannounced visits to detention centers in order to ensure