US Senate panel approves entry ban on PH officials behind De Lima detention

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, in a blue power suit, smiles and waves at well-wishers after attending the continuation of the trial of one of the trumped-up illegal drug trading cases filed against her at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256 on Wednesday, September 25. | Senate photo

UNITED States Senator Dick Durbin on Friday, September 27, lauded the US Senate Appropriations Committee for passing an amendment that seeks to ban the entry into the U.S. of Philippine government officials involved in the “politically-motivated” detention of Philippine senator Leila De Lima.

Durbin, who was among the U.S. senators that called for the release of De Lima earlier this week, proposed the amendment along with U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy.

“Good to see the Senate Appropriations Committee pass my amendment with @SenatorLeahy today to prohibit entry to any Philippine government officials involved in the politically-motivated imprisonment of Filipina Senator Leila De Lima in 2017,” he said in a tweet.

Palace: US panel move an ‘insulting, offensive act’

Malacañang, for its part, described the U.S. panel’s approval of the amendment a “brazen attempt” to meddle into the Philippines’ domestic affairs, saying it treats Manila as an “inferior state.”

“It seeks to place pressure upon our independent institutions thereby effectively interfering with our nation’s sovereignty. It is an insult to the competence and capacity of our duly constituted authorities as such act makes it appear that this US Senate panel has the monopoly of what is right and just,” Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement Friday.

“t is an outright disrespect to our people’s clamor for law and order. It treats our country as an inferior state unqualified to run its own affairs,” he added.

However, Panelo said the Philippine government will respect the American lawmakers’ democratic processes, and will not perform any “repulsive action” for the passing of the amendment.

“We shall respect their democratic processes, be these in the form of a congressional measure or an immigration policy. We shall leave it to the international community to ascertain which nation values the rule of law in accordance with the principle of state sovereignty,” he said.

Panelo also reiterated that De Lima is not a “prisoner of conscience.”

“She is being afforded all her rights to due process and has in fact availed of available legal remedies under our procedural rules,” he said.

“We continue to mind our own business, as each nation has enough problems that its government should focus on. We hope that the Senate panel of the United States of America shares the same policy,” the spokesman added.

LP welcomes US show of support

The opposition Liberal Party (LP), meanwhile, welcomed the U.S. Senate’s move to bar entry to the U.S. of local officials involved in De Lima’s detention.

“We do not consider the U.S. Senate’s action as an interference in the affairs of a sovereign state. Human beings everywhere – regardless of ethnicity, nationality, class, religion, or gender – must speak out against mass murder,” said LP President Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

“We welcome this move of the U.S. senators, an act of solidarity not only for Senator Leila de Lima, but for all the murdered victims, and their orphans, widows, and mothers and fathers, who are now doubly burdened by the absence of a loved one and in many, many cases a family breadwinner,” he added.

According to Pangilinan, LP was encouraged that a growing number of world leaders acknowledge the unjust detention of De Lima for standing up against the mass murder of Filipinos.

“This U.S. Senate action, as well as the Iceland UN resolution, shows that we are not alone in this fight,” he said

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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