On the provision on entry in the US 2020 Budget
The United States (US) 2020 Budget contains a provision which authorizes the US Secretary of State to ban government officials in the Philippines from entering their territory about whom he “has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of […] Senator Leila de Lima.”
While some media outlets have been twisting this information in their headlines as an outright ban against Philippine officials involved in the case of Senator de Lima from travelling to the US, the Palace has explained that the subject provision is inefficacious given that the Filipina Senator is not “wrongfully imprisoned” and therefore, the impossibility for the US Secretary of State to receive “credible information” with regard thereto.
Should a ban from entry into US territory 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 Philippine territory.
Meanwhile, the President is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, the imperious, uninformed and gullible American legislators who introduced the subject provision in the US 2020 Budget, entry to the Philippines.
The case of Senator de Lima is not one of persecution but of prosecution. In fact, it is already being heard by our courts. The Philippine Supreme Court, the highest court of our land, has affirmed the incarceration of Senator de Lima as valid and lawful. No other state can dictate upon our officials, judges, and justices the method upon which we enforce or interpret our laws vis-à-vis those who are believed to have committed a violation against the same.
We reiterate that the Philippines is an independent and sovereign state. It stands in parity with all other states, including the US, and any form of pressure that is tantamount to an interference into its established justice system shall be reciprocated in accordance with our municipal law, as well as public international law or the law of the nations.
Salvador S. Panelo
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
& Presidential Spokesperson