Duterte orders ban vs 2 US senators over travel restrictions for De Lima detainers
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte communicated with him Thursday night and told him to issue the statement on the travel ban against the US senators.
Presidential Photo/Yancy Lim

Duterte orders ban vs 2 US senators over travel restrictions for De Lima detainers

Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - December 27, 2019 - 2:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a ban on Philippine soil against two American lawmakers who proposed the amendment to deny Philippine officials implicated in the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima of entry to the United States.

In a press briefing Friday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said:” The Philippines is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny US Sens. Dick Durbin (Illinois) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont), the imperious, uninformed and gullible American legislators who introduced the subject provision in the US 2020 budget, entry to the Philippines.”

Durbin and Leahy proposed the amendment to prohibit the entry of Philippine government officials that had a hand in the “politically-motivated” case against De Lima.

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

US President Donald Trump on Monday approved the passage of the US 2020 budget bill that included the provision, which touches on Financial Management and Budget Transparency.

The said provision 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.

Palace: De Lima arrest, detention are lawful

Panelo stressed that De Lima’s continued detention “is not of persecution...but prosecution.”

The Palace mouthpiece stressed that De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte, is being tried by Philippine courts and no less than our highest court affirmed the legality of her arrest.

READ: It's final: SC upholds constitutionality of De Lima's arrest

“We reiterate that the Philippines—and we address this to the senators specifically named as well as those who approved the provision—that we the Philippines is an independent and sovereign state and it stands in parity with other states, including the United States,” Panelo added.

“We will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as sovereign state,” Panelo warned.

De Lima is facing conspiracy to commit drug trading charges before Muntinlupa courts, and has been detained inside the police headquarters in the Quezon City since Feb. 24, 2017. She is accused of having a hand in the proliferation of drug trading inside the national penitentiary during her stint as Justice secretary—an accusation she vehemently denied.

READ: De Lima thanks US Congress for travel restriction on detainers

Visa for Americans

The Malacañang also said that if the US government will enforce the barring of Philippine officials, they will require a visa from American citizens who want to enter the country.

“If they will enforce this provision in the US budget, then we will be compelled to require all Americans entering into this country to secure a visa, regardless [of their purpose],” Panelo added.

The presidential spokesperson said that Duterte told him to issue the statement Thursday night.

He also assured that Duterte was aware of the order’s repercussions. “Once the president makes the decisions, all circumstances are factored in,” Panelo added.

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