Robredo: US has right to ban those behind De Lima detention
MANILA, Philippines — The United States can choose whom to allow or deny entry into its territory, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday.
She was referring to an amendment recently approved by the US Senate appropriations committee prohibiting the entry of Philippine officials involved in the detention of Sen. Leila De Lima.
“We may not agree, but we cannot deny that it’s their right as a country. That’s why we apply for visa. They have the right to approve or deny our entry to their country,” Robredo said in Filipino in her weekly radio show “BISErbisyong LENI.”
Robredo said the move only showed how other countries take their fight against rights violations seriously.
“And now America is using this [right] to show other countries that there are values that are important to them and they will use the power of their government to spread this message,” she added.
Several Filipino lawmakers and public officials have slammed the move, with presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo saying that the move sought to “place pressure” on the country’s “independent institutions thereby effectively interfering with our nation’s sovereignty.”
“It is our choice whether we will be pressured or not, right? Whatever effort outsiders do to put pressure on us, it is up to us if we will let ourselves be pressured,” Robredo said. “For me, even if there are attempts to interfere with us, if we do not want to, we can stop it. The same with our sovereignty. It is up to us if we will allow them or not.”
Robredo also noted that Filipino legislators could not stop their US counterparts from doing what they would want.
“When it comes to questioning their action, we cannot intervene with that in the same manner that they cannot interfere with our decisions,” she said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy, who proposed the said amendment, violated their own Constitution when they pushed for the travel ban on the Filipino officials.
Meanwhile, Sen. Christopher Go said he would also ask President Rodrigo Duterte to likewise ban the American senators who pushed for the amendment.
De Lima has been detained since February 1997 for her alleged involvement in illegal drug trading.
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