SEVERAL Philippine government officials have been recommended to be banned from the United States for reportedly being involved in Senator Leila de Lima’s detention, according to the senator’s office.
The senator sent the United States embassy a list of Philippine government officials in question, her chief media officer Ferdie Maglalang confirmed Tuesday, February 25.
Earlier this year, De Lima said she was in the process of completing the list of her so-called persecutors “complete with a summary and citation of references justifying their inclusion.”
The detained senator submitted her list to the U.S. government around the second week of January. Though she refused to disclose the names and how many they are, De Lima said she “justified each and every name on why they are part of my persecution, as reported by Rappler.
Previous reports stated that President Rodrigo Duterte and his spokesperson, Salvador Panelo, topped the initial list of those who should be banned from the U.S. The senator also included Solicitor General Jose Calida, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, public attorney’s office chief Persida Acosta, and former Lower House legislators Reynaldo Umali and Rudy Farinas, according to the Philippine Star.
De Lima said that her list is only a recommendation, adding that the U.S. State Department still has the final decision to implement the ban.
“With or without my list, they (U.S.) are mandated to come up with a list,” the detained senator said.
Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra responded that he trusts the call of the U.S. government.
“I am not interested to know who are in her list… I trust that the U.S State Department will exercise its own independent evaluation and exercise prudence and circumspection,” he said in a statement.
In December, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the 2020 U.S. federal budget, which included a provision prohibiting the entry of foreign government officials involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained since 2017 for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prisons during her stint as justice secretary.