US senator backs colleagues, calls for De Lima release anew
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the camp of US Sen. Patrick Leahy seems to be unaware of the Philippine justice system.
Leila de Lima/Facebook, File

US senator backs colleagues, calls for De Lima release anew

Franco Luna (Philstar.com) - October 4, 2019 - 1:53pm

MANILA, Philippines – Yet another United States senator has joined the call to free Sen. Leila De Lima, the opposition senator in detention for drug charges that she claims have no basis and are motivated by politics.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) on Friday tweeted on his personal Twitter account that fellow senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) "are right to push for accountability in the Philippine [government]." 

This comes after Malacañang asserted that De Lima is getting a “fair public trial as due process requires.” 

Markey was among five senators who filed US Senate Resolution 142 in April: "A resolution condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes."

A Senate resolution, even if adopted, does not have the force of law.

In an April press release, De Lima thanked the five senators, saying, "I express my deepest gratitude to the five honorable members of the US Senate not only for calling out the political persecution I have to endure under the present administration but also the human rights abuses in the country."

"America must continue to stand for human rights and good governance. That’s why I was proud to introduce [the resolution], which calls for the release of [De Lima]," he added. 

RELATED: In Russia, Duterte hits 'misguided' drug war critics

The verbal spat was initiated when Durbin and Leahy filed an amendment to an appropriations bill to prohibit the entry into the US of any Filipino official involved in De Lima's incarceration. It was later approved by the US Senate appropriations committee.

Leahy and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo recently exchanged words over the proposed ban, with the latter claiming that the move was an attempt to meddle in Philippine affairs, which Panelo believes Leahy "simply doesn't get."

President Rodrigo Duterte has played down the proposed amendment, saying it is too early to say anything.

"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 say that these things exist in the Philippines, let them," he said on Tuesday.

He said that if "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."

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