Panelo hits US Senator Leahy anew: ‘You simply don’t get it’
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo and US Senator Patrick Leahy continue to trade barbs over the alleged “wrongful imprisonment” of opposition Senator Leila De Lima.
In his latest tirade against the US lawmaker, Panelo said Leahy was only “showing more ignorance” and “uttering amusing nonsense” when he called for a fair trial for De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration detained for drug-related charges since 2017.
“US Senator Patrick Leahy simply does not get it,” Panelo said in a statement Thursday.
He reiterated that the “investigating prosecutor and the judge have found probable cause to pursue charges and issue the warrant of arrest” against De Lima.
“This Senator Leahy’s retort only validates his sheer ignorance on our country’s substantive and procedural rules,” he said.
Leahy earlier proposed before a US Senate committee a travel ban against Philippine officials involved in the imprisonment of De Lima.
De Lima is currently detained for allegedly abetting an illegal drug trade during her term as justice secretary in the previous administration. She maintained her innocence and accused the government of fabricating the cases against her.
READ: Pushed in US Senate: ‘No entry’ for De Lima jailers
READ: Palace to US Senate panel: Mind your own business
Panelo branded Leahy’s proposal as a foreign interference with the Philippines’ domestic affairs, while the American lawmaker, in a recent statement sent to ABS-CBN News, questioned the human rights situation in the Philippines.
“If the evidence is as strong as Mr. Panelo claims, then the government should promptly produce it in a fair, public trial, as due process requires, so Senator De Lima can defend herself,” Leahy said.
But Panelo, who is also Duterte’s chief legal counsel, claimed that De Lima is getting a “fair, public trial, as due process requires” as the government lets the courts decide on her case.
“It is Senator Leahy who has been undertaking measures to place the case of Senator De Lima outside our legal process and place it in a hostile environment stacked against the Philippine officials,” Panelo said.
“His actions smack of interference with due process, particularly that of the People of the Philippines, he claims to promote,” he added.
The Palace official also asked Leahy to just focus on the issues in the US “rather than looking for other concerns which belong to a separate and independent state.”
READ: Panelo hits back at ‘ignorant’ US Senator Leahy
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