By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Filipinos should reject the United States’ passage of the ban on government officials involved in the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
“An affront to the Philippine Supreme Court should be despised by all Filipinos!” Sotto said in message to reporters Tuesday night.
Sotto issued the statement as he surmised that Supreme Court (SC) justices could be barred from entering the US for denying De Lima’s 2017 petition against her arrest and allowing lower courts to handle her drug cases.
The SC affirmed its decision in April 2018, saying it will no longer entertain further pleadings or motions from De Lima.
The Senate leader earlier slammed President Donald Trump’s approval of the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill which included a provision prohibiting the entry of Philippine government officials found to be involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima.
Sotto said this proved that the US is interfering with the Philippines’ judicial system “without even investigating.”
He also hit the ban’s proponents, Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy, for pushing this “when they do not know about De Lima’s case.”
Despite this, Sotto is not keen on appealing the Trump-approved ban. Some senators said the Philippines should respect the US’ decision.
De Lima has been detained since February, 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City during her stint as Justice secretary.
She has since denied the charges, claiming that this was part of the Duterte administration’s harassment of its critics.