Photo shows detained Sen. Leila De Lima.
Facebook/Leila de Lima, File
2020 US budget includes ban on people behind 'wrongful imprisonment' of De Lima
Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - December 23, 2019 - 1:27pm

MANILA, Philippines — US President Donald Trump on Monday, Philippine time, approved the US 2020 budget bill, including a provision that bars those involved in the "wrongful imprisonment" of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima from entering the United States.

The provision, which touches on Financial Management and Budget Transparency, includes a clause on Prohibition on Entry that reads: 

The Secretary of State shall apply subsection (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information (sic.) have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of: [...] Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017. 

Included in the provision are bans on officials from the Governments of Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, all for imprisoning American diplomats and nationals, as well as those involved in the detention of Mustafa Kassem, "an American citizen imprisoned by the Government of Egypt and whose health is failing."

US Senator Dick Durbin announced in late September that the Senate appropriations committee had approved the measure. “We must free Leila now,” he tweeted. 

At a press briefing on Monday afternoon, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace is not bothered by the provision.

"It cannot be a wrongful detention," he also said, referring to De Lima being in police custody over drug charges that she says are politically motivated.

De Lima, an outspoken Duterte critic, had tried to investigate the existence of the alleged "Davao Death Squad" when she was Commission on Human Rights commissioner and later when she was Justice secretary during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III.

In an earlier statement, Panelo also called the move "a brazen attempt to intrude into our country's domestic legal processes."

The US State Department, as of this writing, has not yet released a list of officials barred from entering the United States.

De Lima names 'persecutors' in October dispatch

In an October dispatch from Crame, the 60-year-old De Lima named those she said were involved in her detention. 

"My persecution started with a daily public media demolition by none other than Duterte, using all his powers as president. This was followed by a vicious social media campaign conducted by DDS Trolls, led by Duterte sycophants Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sasot, and RJ Nieto," she said.

"Then came the House investigation where criminal convicts were induced to testify against me in exchange for prison privileges and immunity, if not presidential pardon, as led by former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former [Jusitce] Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Solicitor General Jose Calida, [Public Attorney's Office] Chief Persida Acosta, Sandra Cam, Dante Jimenez, Congressmen Rey Umali and Rudy Fariñas." 

This is a developing story. 

2020 US BUDGET SEN. LEILA DE LIMA US STATE DEPARTMENT
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