Solon says US lawmakers ‘bullying’ PH gov’t execs over De Lima detention
MANILA, Philippines — House Minority Leader Benny Abante Jr. on Friday accused US senators of “bullying” Philippine government officials into freeing detained Senator Leila de Lima.
Abante made the pronouncement in reaction to the US Senate appropriations committee’s approval of an amendment to a bill that would bar any Philippine government official involved in the “politically motivated” detention of De Lima from entering America.
He described the US Senate panel’s action as “a slap on the face of Philippine sovereignty” as it is a “blatant attempt to interfere in our legal processes and meddle in our affairs.”
“If they believe that Senator de Lima should be set free, then it is their right to express their opinion. But it is another thing altogether to bully another government’s judicial officers into acquiescing to their demands,” Abante said in a statement.
As De Lima’s trial is still ongoing, Abante said the US senators are “essentially telling the judges that if they find Sen. de Lima guilty, they will be barred from entering the United States.”
“How can we expect the judges to be completely impartial in the face of this development? This is an attack on Philippine judicial independence,” he added.
The House leader urged US senators to drop and oppose the amendment as it “reeks of disrespect for a nation that has been their ally and friend for over half a century.” /kga