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US Senate panel adopts call to bar Philippine officials involved in De Lima detention
Photo shows detained Sen. Leila De Lima.
Leila de Lima FB Page/File

US Senate panel adopts call to bar Philippine officials involved in De Lima detention

(Philstar.com) - September 27, 2019 - 12:13pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:50 p.m.) —A committee in the United States Senate has approved a proposal to prohibit the entry of Philippine government officials involved in the “politically-motivated” detention of Sen. Leila De Lima.

In a tweet, US Sen. Dick Durbin (D-ILL) lauded the US Senate's appropriations committee for passing the amendment he proposed with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

“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,” the Democrat from Illinois said.

Acdording to reports, the amendment was to the 2020 state and foreign operations appropriations bill.

De Lima's colleague, Sen. Francis Pangilinan, welcomed the move as an “act of solidarity.”

“We are encouraged that a growing number of world leaders recognize the unjust detention of Sen. Leila De Lima for fighting for the lives of our people,” He said. 

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

Malacañang called the panel's approval of the amendment a “brazen attempt” to meddle in the country’s domestic affairs as it maintained that De Lima is “no prisoner of conscience.”

“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 spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement Friday. 

Panelo said that “sensible” Filipinos should feel disrespected by what he deemed as an “insulting and offensive act.”

“It 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 said. 
Panelo, however, said the Philippine government will respect the American lawmakers’ democratic processes. 

“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 these United States of America shares the same policy,” he said. 

Early this week, Rubio renewed his call for the Philippine government to “unconditionally” release De Lima.

Malacañang dismissed the lawmaker’s call as “nonsense.”

A fierce critic of the Duterte administration and its deadly anti-narcotic campaign, De Lima was arrested on Feb. 24, 2017 on what she called “trumped-up” drug charges that she said were part of a presidential vendetta.

Earlier bipartisan resolution on De Lima

Durbin was one of the lawmakers who introduced a bipartisan resolution in April condemning the continued detention of De Lima and calling for her immediate release. The other legislators were Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware).

The resolution was read twice and referred to the chamber's foreign relations committee.

Durbin was one of the lawmakers who introduced a bipartisan resolution in April condemning the continued detention of De Lima and calling for her immediate release. The other legislators were Edward Markey (D-MASS), Marco Rubio (R-FLA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TENN) and Chris Coons (D-DEL).

The resolution was read twice and referred to the chamber's foreign relations committee.

As in the Philippines, simple resolutions like Senate Resolution 142 only express a chamber's position on an issue. 

According to the US Senate website, "simple resolutions are also used to express the sentiments of a single house, such as offering condolences to the family of a deceased member of Congress, or it may give 'advice' on foreign policy or other executive business."

Simple resolutions do not have the force of law but bills, like the one amended by Durbin and Leahy, do if enacted.

LEILA DE LIMA US SENATORS
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