US senator banned by Duterte now in PH

A United States lawmaker previously banned by former President Duterte is now in the Philippines.

Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts arrived in the Philippines on Thursday to lead a congressional delegation to meet with President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

The visit was confirmed on Friday by the US Embassy in the Philippines, which said the delegation of senators and congressmen was part of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus that was launched in 2021 to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Photo courtesy of US Embassy in the Philippines

In 2020, Markey was banned by Duterte from entering the country after he called for the release of detained former senator Leila de Lima. He was among the 11 lawmakers who sponsored US Senate Resolution 142, which called for de Lima's freedom.

Prior to the Philippine visit, the delegation reportedly went to Taiwan. They came several days after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also went there that irked China, which claims territory over the self-governing island.

In photos uploaded by the US Embassy, Markey met with some of his Filipino counterparts, including Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Tolentino.

He also met with House Speaker Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez, a known ally of Marcos Jr.

Markey was also in the country for the same reason he was prohibited from entering the Philippines by Duterte.

He, along with other lawmakers, aimed to visit de Lima at her detention facility in Camp Crame.

On Friday, two Muntinlupa courts allowed him as well as Reps. Alan Lowenthal, John Garamendi, Don Beyer and Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen to see the detained former senator.

In separate orders, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branches 204 and 256, which are handling de Lima’s two drug cases, granted her motion to allow the US lawmakers to visit her.