MANILA,  – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has maintained that all Persons Under PNP Custody (PUPC), including former senator Leila de Lima, are bound by strict rules on visitation.

Col. Mark Pespes, Director of the PNP-Headquarters Support Service, said in a statement Sunday that they don’t deprive PUPC of their constitutional right to be visited but it should be within the bounds of PNP Memorandum Circular 2018-02.

“We treat all PUPC equally and no one is exempt from this policy,” he said.

Friends of De Lima decried the denial of their request to visit the former lawmaker on Saturday when she turned 63 but the PNP said it was because they failed to meet the deadline.

Only immediate family members were allowed to celebrate with De Lima.

Based on records, the PNP Custodial Center received the letter of request from her supposed guests on the night of August 22, or five days before the intended visit.

“Visits to PUPC by any person may be allowed only upon their submission of a written request at least 10 working days prior to the intended date of visit subject to the approval of the Chief PNP for foreign requests or the Regional Director for local requests,” Paragraph 6 of the PNP memorandum states.

“The senator is aware that her request fell short of the required number of days stated in the memo but still, the PNP headquarters and Support Service made earnest efforts to process the request. However, hindi talaga naihabol ang approval (the approval could not be issued),” Pespes said.

He said the PNP, through the Custodial Service Unit, informally informed De Lima on Friday night and through a letter on Saturday that the request was immediately processed but did not reach approval.

“Any request for visitation is evaluated thoroughly and will usually take a process which needs ample time before it finally gets approved if ever no complications are observed,” Pespes said. (MNS)