Panelo belittles US ban on officials linked to De Lima detention
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo belittled Monday the proposal of two United States senators to ban from America the Philippine officials involved in the detention of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima.
Panelo said that while he does not mind being barred from entering America, the proposal seems to have been coming from the minority of the US Senate, and would still have a long way to go before being approved.
“… It’s not the only country that you can go to and enjoy the sites and the sounds,” Panelo said in a press briefing. “Moreover… that ban is just a proposal in a Senate committee and I think the views of the two senators are in the minority otherwise some senators will have supported that.”
“In other words that ban will only be effective upon the approval of both houses of Congress of the US,” he added, referring to the proposal of Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin.
Panelo also said Leahy was “abusing his freedom of expression” when he “criticized without basis.”
The Palace official also castigated Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman who had said that “freedom of public discourse allows officials of one country to criticize or even condemn the acts of officials of another country for genuinely perceived or actual violations of civil, political and human rights of the latter’s own citizens.”
Panelo insisted De Lima was not wrongfully imprisoned.
“You know, the usual convenient refuge of political chameleons is that they easily change their beliefs on the basis of a political agenda,” Panelo said.
“Like that congressman [Lagman], he’s a lawyer, he should know. How can there be wrongful imprisonment when there’s preliminary investigation and there’s issuance of a warrant of arrest…” he added.
De Lima is currently detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City for allegedly aiding the illegal drug trade during her term as Justice secretary in the previous administration. She repeatedly denied the charges as trumped-up and politically motivated. /je
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