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You go too far, America!

“Since the Philippines is a sovereign and independent country, sanctions can also be imposed on senators — like banning them from entry to the Philippines.

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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Sorry, Leila, despite a United States Senate panel unanimously approving a bipartisan resolution that demands the release of the detained senator, their call and demand, accompanied by a threat of an imposition of sanctions, aren’t going to get Leila released from her jail cell.

Republican and Democrat senators called De Lima a “prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression.”

The US legislators are merely showing their ignorance. Leila, a prisoner of conscience when she, as the country’s Justice secretary, had no conscience imprisoning the political foes of her yellow patron on account of their political views?

So, where were these American legislators when then opposition senators were charged and detained for years on account of their political views? These senators were restricted from doing their work in the Senate, yet a different standard is being applied when it comes to De Lima?

The US panel even calls for sanctions that fall under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on government officials responsible for “orchestrating” De Lima’s arrest and prolonged detention.

US law allows the US president to block or revoke US visas and to freeze US-based property and interests of foreign persons who have engaged in extrajudicial killings or other rights abuses, as well as government officials who are engaged in, or responsible for, significant acts of corruption.

And just who among the Philippine government officials are to be sanctioned? Those whom De Lima says “orchestrated” her release and prolonged detention, such as President Duterte, then Justice Secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre, the prosecutors, the Muntinlupa court judges, police chiefs and anyone else Leila points to? And these American senators want them sanctioned based on Leila’s lies and in violation of Philippine laws and yes, even the Constitution!

It’s a long list of persons this US panel wants sanctioned, such as the members of the security forces and Philippine officials responsible for extrajudicial killings in the country. But sanctions never work, and by now, the Americans should have realized it. Even in Iran, China, or even Russia and Turkey and any other sovereign and independent country, sanctions don’t work and have failed in making any of these countries sanctioned bow to the US and toe its line.

The US can try it but, at the same time, since the Philippines is a sovereign and independent country, sanctions can also be imposed on senators — like banning them from entry to the Philippines. The same can be applied to US troops who are still around.

But what makes these US senators think that their resolution — or even any bill they pass — will be more than enough for Filipinos and their government to cower in fear and quickly give in to whatever it demands — and in defiance of Philippine laws and the rule of law that it claims to adhere to, especially when their own president appears to trample on the rule of law?

These American legislators seem to see Filipinos and their country as still being a US colony for them to demand the release of Sen. De Lima from detention, because, as they claim, and clearly without basis, she has been illegally detained with the added baseless claim that the charges against her are politically motivated ones that these US senators want dropped.

And it is not only De Lima’s charges that the US panel wants dropped. The same panel also demands that the charges against Rappler’s Maria Ressa be dropped, despite the fact that one serious charge against Ressa and Rappler is about the violation of the Constitution, with the other charges merely focused on libel, which is part of any journalists’ territory.

The latest US panel demand got the gander of Senate President Tito Sotto who stressed, “We are a sovereign nation. We have our own judicial processes. What will they (Americans) say if we pass a resolution asking the US to put in jail all abortionists in their country, considering abortion is illegal in ours?”

He pointed out that criminal laws “are territorial and are different in every country,” adding that “sovereign states have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide the violation of their own laws. We are not a colony anymore.”

For her part, Sen. Imee Marcos slammed the passage of the US Senate resolution, saying that this is an outright intrusion.

“That’s an outright intrusion. They should stop. We’re no longer their little brown brother. We are no longer a colony of the US. Show a bit of respect,” she said.

The US senators can continue to demand for her release, but sorry, Leila, we do have a President who can stand up anytime against any of these unjust demands, especially against those detained who come with baseless claims from De Lima that are swallowed hook line and sinker by these US senators.

A sovereign, proud and independent country does not cower in fear of demands — especially from a former oppressive colonizer!

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