Duterte: Too early to react to proposed US entry ban on officials in De Lima detention
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima casts her vote at the Sta. Rita College in Parañaque for the midterm polls last May 13, 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Duterte: Too early to react to proposed US entry ban on officials in De Lima detention

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - October 2, 2019 - 4:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte thinks it is premature to react to a proposal by two American senators to bar Philippine officials involved in the detention of his fierce critic Sen. Leila de Lima from entering the United States.

Duterte noted that the proposal by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin is not yet an act of state because it has yet to secure the nod of the entire American Senate.

"I have the best adjective for that pero at this time... Hilaw pa ‘yan eh (It's still raw). When it becomes ripe, then I will say my piece," the president told reporters at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 before departing for Russia Tuesday.

"I do not deal individually with the congressman or senators there. It's not yet ripe. It is not an act of state. It does not carry the mandate of the entire Senate. So if there is one or two or three who says that these things exist in the Philippines, let them," he added.

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

Duterte, who previously lambasted the US for supposedly meddling in Philippine affairs, said he would talk to US President Donald Trump once the American Congress approves the Leahy-Durbin amendment.

"These are the voices of members of a committee. And if that committee will report the resolution to the plenary and the plenary would adopt or join them, and that would be the act of Congress," the president said.

"I cannot help them in their ignorance. So if they decide to report it out of the committee to the plenary for adoption... it is now ripe, it becomes a matter now between two states, then that is the time maybe the State Department or Trump and I will have to talk. And I will talk," he added.

Leahy and Durbin have filed an amendment in the 2020 State and Foreign Operations appropriations bill to deny Filipino officials involved in De Lima's imprisonment entry to the US. They described the imprisonment of De Lima, who is facing drug-related charges, as "wrongful" and accused officials of the Duterte administration of abusing the justice system for political retribution.

READ: Philippines ambassador to US: Interference a bane to ties

Last week, the US Senate's appropriations committee approved the amendment introduced by the two senators, a move that Malacañang labeled as a "brazen attempt" to intrude into Philippine legal processes.

Duterte was also mum on the proposal of Sen. Christopher Go to ban American senators who support the Leahy-Durbin amendment.

"Those are proposals and proposals are what they are — simply proposals... I said when the proper time comes. When it is ripe," he said.

Duterte also thinks that investigating the two American senators pushing for the ban on Philippine officials is just a waste of time.

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