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Palace tells US government not to meddle in De Lima’s case

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THE Palace on Friday warned the US government to keep from meddling with the Philippines’ justice system, adding that American lawmakers passing of a resolution barring certain Filipino officials involved in Senator Leila M. De Lima’s detention from entering the USA and freezing their assets is a form of “bullying.”

The Duterte administration was reacting to the US Senates’ passing of a resolution to bar entry to the US and freezing the US assets of Filipino officials it deems responsible for deaths in the administration’s drug war and for the detention of Senator De Lima. The administration added that it sees this as meddling with the Philippines’ sovereignty.

Palace Spokesperson Salavador S. Panelo said in a statement: “These latest actions of the US Senate are a form of bullying on the part of a particular institution of a foreign country. We will not be bullied by any foreign country or by its officials, specially by misinformed and gullible politicians who grandstand at our expense.”

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles said that the US Senate does not have the right to interfere with Philippine judicial matters, saying to reporters Friday, “Parang dinidiktahan tayo dun sa kung paano patakbuhin ang justice system natin, eh independent tayo (It is as if they are dictating how we are to run our judicial system, but we are independent).”

“Don’t meddle in our sovereignty,” he said.

The US Senate on Thursday passed Senate Resolution No. 142, calling on US President Donald Trump to bar the entry of Filipino officials linked to Ms. De Lima’s detention and urging the Philippine government to release her. The same resolution also prohibits officials who are deemed at fault for the thousands killed as part of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs from entering the USA. It also includes a provision blocking access to all US assets and transactions of these officials.

Last month, Mr. Trump signed the 2020 US National Budget, the consolidated version of which contained a provision which will prohibit the entry of Filipino officials linked to Ms. De Lima’s arrest if credible information justifies it.

Both the US Senate resolution and the US National Budget provision used as their foundation the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which states that foreign officials will be sanctioned if found guilty of human rights violations.

The Palace has since banned US Senators Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Edward Markey — all staunch critics of the Duterte government who are behind the provision in the US budget — from traveling to the Philippines. Mr. Markey is also the author of Senate Resolution 142.

Local officials have defended the incarceration of Ms. De Lima, who is in jail for drug charges, because she is being tried in court. — Gillian M. Cortez





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