Palace: US Senate panel ‘blissfully ignorant’ about De Lima’s case
MANILA, Philippines — The US Senate panel which approved an amendment that would deny US entry to any Philippine official involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of opposition Senator Leila de Lima is “blissfully ignorant,” Malacañang said Monday.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said De Lima’s case was not a “wrongful imprisonment” since it underwent several investigations.
“First they’re saying it’s a wrongful imprisonment. Dun lang (This) shows how blissfully ignorant they are. How can it be a wrongful imprisonment when you pass through bodies?” Panelo said in an interview with ANC.
“First the administrative body, the preliminary investigation where you determine the existence of a probably cause. The prosecutors investigating it found one and so they charged the senator. And then under the Constitution, the judge has to personally examine the evidence to justify the issuance of a warrant of arrest. And he found one. So how can there be a wrongful imprisonment?” Panelo added.
De Lima, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, has been detained since February 2017 over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade which she vehemently denied.
The US Senate’s appropriations committee earlier approved the said amendment proposed by Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leachy. If passed, this would prohibit Philippine officials who were supposedly behind De Lima’s detention from entering the U.S.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the approval, saying it’s still “raw” and the proposal has yet to be acted upon by the US Congress. /je
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