Senate resolution ‘to rebuke’ US lawmakers’ call to free De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – Three senators, including Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, have filed a measure, rebuking two US Congress resolutions, calling for Senator Leila de Lima’s release.
Senate Resolution No. 1037 filed Wednesday at the Senate, expresses “the strong sense of the Philippine Senate to rebuke, for being an affront to the sovereignty of the Republic of the Philippines and an undue interference on its judicial process, proposed Resolution Nos. 233 and 142 filed by some members of the Unites States Congress.”
The measure was initiated by Sotto and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Gringo Honasan.
US House Resolution No. 233 was filed last March 14 by Representatives Karen Lorraine Jacqueline Speier of California’s 14th Congressional District, James Patrick McGovern of Massachusetts, Hank Calvin Johnson Jr. of Georgia, Jamin Ben Reskin of Maryland, Bradley James Sherman of California’s 30th’ Congressional District, and Lloyd Alton Dogget II of Texas.
Resolution No.142 was also filed in the US Senate by Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Marco Rubio of Florida, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Christopher Coons of Delaware.
In the two US resolutions, the lawmakers condemned the Philippine government for its “continued detention” of De Lima and called for her immediate release.
US Resolution NO. 142 also sought the dropping of charges against Rappler and its chief Maria Ressa.
Both US resolutions stated that Senator De Lima is a “prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression,” the Philippine resolution noted.
But Sotto, Lacson, and Honasan asserted that the US resolutions were “highly inappropriate and unbefitting considering that the Philippines is no longer a vassal or a colony of the United States of America but a sovereign state and a member of the family of nations governed by its own municipal laws and the generally accepted principles of international law.”
“The Philippines, regardless of its flaws and weaknesses, has a Constitution that provides for three independent, co-equal branches and a judicial system where due process is followed,” they said in the resolution.
Contrary to the assertions of US lawmakers, they said, the Philippine government “adheres to the observance of the principle that ours is a nation governed by laws and not of men as stated and guaranteed by no less than the Preamble of the 1987 Constitution.”
The US lawmakers’ call to release De Lima and to drop charges against Rappler and Ressa could not be done “without encroaching and interfering on the exercise by the Judiciary of its judicial powers…” as provided for in the Constitution, the senators said.
And since criminal cases were already filed in court against De Lima and Ressa, the government “cannot do anything but to let the wheels of justice take its course…” they further said.
The Philippine resolution also noted that, despite her detention, De Lima is still allowed to do her job as a senator except that she cannot participate in deliberations and voting on measures.
In the case of Rappler and Ressa, the senators pointed out that the charges against them were not because of her being critical of the administration but for violating certain laws such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act and the Anti-Dummy Law.
“Considering the tenor of the Resolutions of Both Houses of the US Congress, the same can be considered an interference and intervention on a purely domestic matter within the authority of the Republic Philippines, a sovereign state and equal in stature to that of the United States of America,” the Philippine resolution added. /cbb
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