Palace: Popular Duterte not an  'autocratic president' as US senator claims
Malacañang on Dec. 10, 2020 said that a United States senator calling to release detained Sen. Leila de Lima incorrectly presumed that President Rodrigo Duterte is an “autocratic president.”
Combination photo, file

Palace: Popular Duterte not an 'autocratic president' as US senator claims

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - January 10, 2020 - 2:48pm

QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Malacañang on Friday said that a United States senator calling to release detained Sen. Leila de Lima incorrectly presumes that President Rodrigo Duterte is an “autocratic president.”

“Calling the President of the Republic of the Philippines autocratic, by reason of a Philippine senator's detention, which was pursuant to - and in obedience of - Philippine substantive and procedural law, is offensive and a shameful display of illiteracy in the science of governance. We are a democratic government and the president has been duly elected by an overwhelming majority,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

He also pointed out that Duterte has an approval rating of 87% and trust rating of 83%, referring to the Pulse Asia survey in December.

 According to a statement from US Sen. Dick Durbin's office on Wednesday, the lawmaker "once again called for the Philippine government and its autocratic president, Rodrigo Duterte, to release Filipina Senator Leila de Lima or assure a quick and credible trial for her politically motivated incarceration."

De Lima has been detained since 2017 on drug-related charges.

Durbin, along with fellow Sens. Patrick Leahy and Ed Markey, were barred from travel to the Philippines in December by Duterte.

This came after an amendment in the United States State and Foreign Operations funding bill denying visas to Philippine government officials involved in De Lima’s incarceration.

“US Senator Dick Durbin has issued another unlearned and unthought of statement that exposes not only his abject ignorance of what due process is but as well as of the principle of international law mandating that sovereign states must respect each other’s independence and must not intrude into the exercise of each other’s sovereignty,” Panelo said.

The presidential spokesperson also said that Durbin’s demand to release De Lima is a “brazen interference and an assault” to Philippine sovereignty as it supposedly interferes with local judicial processes and violates the principle of sub judice.

“This will be the last time that the Office of the President will address any other intrusive and incorrigible nonsense from Senator Durbin.”

Durbin previously said that the only way for the Philippine government to disprove sentiments that it is autocratic is to address the issue at hand instead of “threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between” the two countries.

“In the end, these will be important tests of whether cherished democratic norms we share with our long-standing Filipino allies will be respected by President Duterte,” the US senator said.

'Steadfast ally of the Philippines'

Sen. Markey also highlighted the alliance between the Philippines and the US.

“While we remain a steadfast ally of the Philippines, we also remain resolute in defending human rights and the rule of law,” he said in a release dated Thursday.

“Preventing Senators and Americans from setting foot in the Philippines will not help the Duterte government brush under the rug state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings. No arbitrary detention or illegitimate charge can obscure the fact that Senator De Lima, Maria Ressa, and all those who speak truth to power exemplify the highest democratic ideals.”

De Lima, meanwhile, lauded the passage of the United States Senate Resolution 142 which urges sanctions on those who put her behind bars.

“The case against me, apart from being fake and invented, has no internal legal consistency or integrity altogether and has been fueled by tyrannical powers and alignment of greed and political opportunism in the Philippine politics. That is clear since Day 1,” the detained senator said in a Friday dispatch from Camp Crame.

“I sincerely thank the granite resolve of Senators Durbin, Markey, Rubio, Blackburn, Coons, Leahy and Cardin, and the rest of the US Senate for standing strong and firm for the larger truths behind my persecution.”

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