3 US Senators now banned from entering PH

Published January 2, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang confirmed on Thursday that United States Senator Edward Markey was added to the list of US legislators banned by President Duterte from entering the Philippines for supporting the entry ban provision for Filipino officials in the US 2020 budget law.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Markey joined his fellow lawmakers senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy in the list of lawmakers banned from entering the Philippines. Durbin and Leahy introduced the provision in the 2020 budget which allowed the US Secretary of State to stop the entry of Filipino officials proven to have had a hand in the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

In his Thursday press briefing, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the three were probably the most avid supporters of the detained lady senator. He, however, said it was uncertain if President Duterte will also be going after the other lawmakers who showed support for De Lima.

“Parang lumalabas sa mga news items na very strong yung endorsement ni Markey (News items showed that Markey was strongly endorsing the provision),” he said.

“Yung tatlo yung lumalabas na sila yung masugid. Hindi pa natin alam yung iba (The three appeared to be avid supporters. We don’t know about the others yet,” he added.

US President Donald Trump signed the 2020 budget last month which contained the provision banning Filipino officials from entering the US if there was credible information that they had a hand in De Lima’s detention.

President Duterte, in retaliation, ordered visa requirements for Americans before entering the country should the United States bans any Filipino official from entering its territory by reason of De Lima’s imprisonment. He likewise ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny Durbin and Leahy entry to the Philippines.

Panelo advised Durbin and Leahy to consult first with US Ambassador Sung Kim before opening their mouths because their stand on De Lima’s case appeared to be coming from ignorance or bias.

The Palace official reiterated that the two senators’ call for the government to release De Lima or grant her a fair trial and to not threaten the travel of Filipino Americans, were not only misplaced but were also a brazen interference into the country’s affairs.

De Lima was arrested in February, 2017 for her involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison. She was arraigned in August 2018.

Meanwhile, Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday claimed that that the reported ban that the United States will impose on government officials involved in the arrest of De Lima violates its own Constitution and that of the Philippines.

“The ban, if indeed contained in the US budget, is akin to a Bill of Attainder – a legislative enactment of guilt, banned in both our Constitutions,” Sotto posted on his Twitter account Thursday morning.

A Bill of Attainder refers to a legislative act punishing an individual or a group of persons guilty for a crime, or “trial by legislature” as the US Supreme Court put it (US v. Brown, 1965).

Under the US Constitution, “no Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”

A similar prohibition was provided in the Philippines’ 1987 Constitution, under the Bill of Rights.

Despite rejecting the ban, Sotto said, “The US, as a sovereign nation, is well within its rights to choose who comes to visit; as we do.”

He said President Duterte is also the “chief architect of our foreign policy.”

“Our nipa hut is also a castle!” he added. (With a report from Vanne Terrazola)

READ MORE: US ban on De Lima jailers unconstitutional – Sotto