PH gov’t bans 2 US senators for call to block officials behind De Lima detention

Robie de Guzman   •   December 27, 2019   •   593

American Senators Patrick Leahy (L) and Richard Durbin (R)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny entry to American Senators Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin, Malacañang said Friday.  

It was Leahy and Durbin who pushed for the inclusion of a provision in the US 2020 budget banning the entry of Philippine officials linked to the detention of Filipino Senator Leila De Lima.

“The Philippines is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, the imperious, uninformed and gullible US legislators who introduced the provision in the 2020 budget entry to the Philippines,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Panelo said the president asked him to issue the statement as proof that the Philippines will not sit idly by if the US continues to interfere with the country’s processes as a sovereign estate.

On December 20, US President Donald Trump signed into law the 2020 State, Foreign Operations and Related Program Appropriations Bill which included an amendment to deny entry to the US of Philippine government officials involved in De Lima’s detention.

A provision on the law allows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prohibit entry to government officials if he has credible information on their involvement in the “wrongful imprisonment” of the Filipino senator.

Democrat Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy authored the amendment in the US 2020 budget which was approved by the US Senate Appropriations Committee in September.

De Lima, one of Duterte administration’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

Panelo reiterated that De Lima’s detention was not a case of political persecution, insisting that the senator was afforded due process and that there is a “probable cause” to issue a warrant for her arrest.

Should the US entry ban be enforced, Panelo said the government would also require American citizens to secure a visa before they will be allowed to enter the Philippines, regardless of the purpose of the visit.

“Should the ban from entry to US territories be enforced against Philippine officials involved in/or by reason of Senator De Lima’s lawful imprisonment, this government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter the Philippine territory,” he said.

He added that the policy will include dual citizens or Filipinos who have secured US citizenship.

Panelo said the president has thought long and hard about the decision, including its possible impact on the country’s economy and tourism.

“When the president makes a decision, circumstances are factored in,” he said.

Panelo further stated that Duterte will formally decline Trump’s standing invitation for him to visit the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Third US senator barred from entering PH

Marje Pelayo   •   January 2, 2020

US Senator Edward Markey (R) addresses the media and a crowd of federal employees, during a protest of the government shutdown at a rally at Post Office Square in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, 11 January 2019.EPA-EFE/CJ GUNTHER

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang confirmed that Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey is still banned from entering the country.

Markey is among the US officials who expressed support to the proposed entry ban in the US of Philippine officials who pushed for the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

“Parang lumalabas sa mga news item na malakas ang endorsement ni Markey, (It appears in the news that Markey’s endorsement is given much weight),” noted Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

The entry ban was first ordered against democrat senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy who authored the provision in the US 2020 National Budget recommending visa ban to officials who allegedly had a hand in De Lima’s arrest. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

PH gov’t ‘not bothered’ by US entry ban on De Lima jailers

Robie de Guzman   •   December 23, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Monday said it is not bothered by a newly-signed law containing a provision banning Philippine government officials from entering the United States if they are proven to be involved in the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

“We are not bothered by it. First, that’s their process, we cannot intrude in the same way when we react when they intrude into our processes,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

On December 20, Friday, US President Donald Trump signed into law the 2020 State, Foreign Operations and Related Program Appropriations Bill which included an amendment to deny entry to the US of Philippine government officials involved in De Lima’s detention.

A provision on the law allows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to prohibit entry to government officials if he has credible information on their involvement in the “wrongful imprisonment” of the Filipino senator.

De Lima, one of Duterte’s fierce critics, has been detained since 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. She has repeatedly denied the charges.

But according to Panelo, the law’s provision cannot be simply imposed.

“It cannot be just imposed because there is a colatilla; there must be credible information. If the information is not credible then the Secretary of State cannot just impose that sanction,” he said.

The Palace official also insisted that De Lima was accorded due process and that there is “probable cause” to issue a warrant for her arrest.

Panelo also shrugged off De Lima’s claim that he and President Rodrigo Duterte were those behind her “wrongful” detention.

“The secretary of state with the two senators who introduced that amendment is better informed and educated on the internal judicial process of this country and would necessary follow his informed judgement,” he said.

Democrat Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy authored the amendment in the US 2020 budget which was approved by the US Senate Appropriations Committee in September. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

DILG to ask LGUs to lift entry ban on pork products from Luzon

Marje Pelayo   •   October 15, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is set to issue a memorandum circular to encourage local government units (LGUs) to lift their respective bans on entry of pork products coming from Luzon.

The LGUs imposed their own measures to prohibit the entry of pork products in their area in protection against the further spread of African Swine Fever (ASF).

According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the DA requested them to allow meat processors to transport their products provided that their products are properly documented, properly processed, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Incorporated (PAMPI) argued that so far, 56 provinces have existing import ban on pork and pork items from the Luzon region.

The group added that the meat processing industry would suffer P55-B loss in profit every year should the local governments not heed lifting the import ban.

PAMPI assured that its products are safe for public consumption, therefore, they are confident that they will not cause the spread of the ASF virus. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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