Illinois Senator Dick Durbin broke the news on Twitter last Thursday, as he thanked the Senate appropriations committee for passing his amendment with Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, that seeks to prohibit any Philippine government official from entering the U.S. — if they were involved in the so-called politically motivated imprisonment of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima in 2017.
De Lima is one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fiercest critics.
A total of five senators are now calling for De Lima’s immediate release.
U.S. Senate resolution 142 condemns the government of the Philippines for its continued detention of De Lima.
Florida Sen Marco Rubio also recently threw in his support for De Lima — calling the charges against her bogus and for the Philippine government to release her immediately.
Meanwhile back in the Philippines, Vicente “Vicboy” de Lima II sent a message to ABS-CBN news — saying that they are happy with the US government’s action on his sister’s case, and that they are hopeful that those who violated her rights — will be held accountable.
Malacanang has responded to these developments. Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the US Senate should mind its own business.
He slammed the proposed ban as an intrusion into domestic legal processes being carried out by local courts.
Panelo also insisted that de Lima’s opposition role is irrelevant to the drug charges against her.
Senator Leahy responded to Panelo’s criticism of his amendment with durbin regarding De Lima, saying that he assumes president Duterte’s spokesman — who defended the wrongful imprisonment of de Lima — does not consider U.S. aid to the philippines to be “interfering” in their sovereignty.
He reiterated that the U.S. aid is not a blank check and when the Philippine officials abuse the justice system for the purpose of political retribution in — they have a responsibility to respond.