US ban on De Lima jailers unconstitutional – Sotto

Published January 2, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Vanne Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday claimed that the reported ban that the United States would impose on government officials involved in the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima would violate its own Constitution and that of the Philippines.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III (PRIB Photo by Henz Austria/11 November 2019)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III
(PRIB Photo by Henz Austria/11 November 2019)

Sotto continued to weigh in on the issue despite doubting the existence of a US travel ban on Philippine government officials proven to have involvement in De Lima’s “wrongful imprisonment.”

“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.

The Senate chief aired the same belief in September last year when US senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy were proposing to include in their 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill the prohibition on the entry of Filipino authorities who had a hand in De Lima’s detention.

But the travel ban might now be enforced as US President Donald Trump signed in December the 2020 budget containing the said provision. Presidential legal counsel and spokesman Salvador Panelo recently confirmed this.

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.