“Blissfully ignorant” was how Malacañang described the United States panel which approved an amendment that would deny US entry to any Philippine official involved in the “wrongful imprisonment” of opposition Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a television interview Monday, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo stressed that the embattled senator’s case was not of “wrongful imprisonment” as it underwent several investigations and the right court processes.
“First, they’re saying it’s a wrongful imprisonment. This shows how blissfully ignorant they are. How can it be a wrongful imprisonment when you pass through bodies?” Panelo said.
“First, the administrative body, the preliminary investigation where you determine the existence of a probable cause. The prosecutors investigating it found one, and so they charged the senator,” he added.
“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?” he added.
The lady senator — who was tagged for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as Justice secretary — has been detained since February 2017. She vehemently denied the allegations.
The US Senate’s Appropriations Committee earlier approved the proposal by Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leachy and, if passed, would prohibit Philippine officials supposedly behind De Lima’s detention from entering the country.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte downplayed the approval, saying it’s still “raw” and the proposal has yet to be acted upon by the US Congress.
“It’s still raw. When it becomes ripe and then I will say my piece,” Duterte said in an earlier speech before departing for Russia, noting that the move was a mere “proposal” and has yet to be acted upon by the US Congress.
“These are just voices of the members of the committee, and if that committee will report the resolution to the plenary and the plenary adopted or joined them, then that would be an act of Congress,” said Duterte. “I do not deal individually with a congressman or senator there. Not yet done… it is not an act of the state.”
The President noted that once the US Senate adopts the bill, Duterte said that would be the time that he would talk to US President Donald Trump.
When asked if he is open to order a ban against the US senators who pushed for the amendment, Duterte said, “they still have nothing. Those are proposals and proposals are what they are — simply a proposal.”
De Lima’s detention was a result of the President’s war on drugs, which was the core of his election campaign.
The President stayed true to his promise and ordered an all-out war against drugs and the drug dealers.
The Philippine National Police had listed close to 6,000 deaths as a result of anti-drug operations. Most of these are from armed encounters with the subjects of their operations.
President Duterte’s critics, however, say the number is miniscule compared to those who died under reportedly questionable circumstances, which they called extrajudicial killings.