Malacañang accused American legislators of bullying the government in the latest United States Senate move of approving a resolution calling on President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Philippine officials who they pinpointed as behind the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo made the remark following the approval of Senate Resolution 142 which sought to bar from entry to the US, officials responsible for De Lima’s ordeal.
Senate blue ribbon and justice and human rights panels chairman Richard Gordon indicated the opposition lawmaker would not be jailed if there is no legitimate case.
In a forum in Mandaluyong, Gordon, a lawyer, said if the foreign legislators really wanted to help De Lima, the better option is for them to get her a lawyer that will expedite the resolution of the drug charges filed against her.
“All I know is our courts are functioning. If the Senate of the United States really wanted to help De Lima, they can hire a great Filipino lawyer and let the courts proceed faster with their case,” he said.
“The courts should expedite the case because you wouldn’t be detained if you are not facing real charges,” he added.
Gordon said the government can choose not to take action on the US Senate resolution as he stood firm that the country’s judiciary is working well.
“We can do the same thing because if the (Philippine) Senate wants to do that, it can do that. But I will not retaliate on that resolution because it will make things worse,” he said.
Gordon reiterated that the legislative action of the US Senate is considered intrusion in the country’s sovereignty.
But I will not retaliate on that resolution because it will make things worse.
“Let us not be easily angered about that. Let us just wait until the case is resolved,” he added.
On Thursday, the US Senate passed a resolution asking President Donald Trump to impose sanctions stipulated under the Global Magnitsky Act against Philippine officials who are allegedly behind the detention of De Lima.
The act allows the US government to impose sanctions on people who were considered human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering US territory.
If the Senate of the United States really wanted to help De Lima, they can hire a great Filipino lawyer.
The resolution was filed by Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts last April 2019.
De Lima was detained in 2017 for allegedly receiving drug money from convicted criminals during her time as Secretary of Justice.
The senator, who is a fierce critic of the administration, denied such allegations and accused the government of political persecution.
“We will not be bullied by any foreign country or by its officials, specially by misinformed and gullible politicians who grandstand at our expense.” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo said the cases against Sen. De Lima and Maria Ressa have absolutely nothing to do with their political views on the Duterte Administration or their affiliation with the political opposition.
Law exempts none
“Their being critics of the President and the Administration will not shield them from criminal prosecution should they violate the law as in their present cases,” Panelo surmised.
“Both have been criminally charged in accordance with law. They have availed — and are still availing — of legal remedies for their defense,” he added.
Panelo, at the same time, said the filing of the Senate Resolution are actions which are brazen and intrusive to the dignity of an independent, democratic and sovereign state.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Palace stands by its previous statements that cases filed against De Lima passed through the regular legal process.
We can do the same thing because if the Philippine Senate wants to do that, it can do that.
He added that such actions by the United States are deemed intrusive to how those in government run the affairs of the country.
Nograles, at the same time, said that its unfair for the US Senate to file such a resolution particularly if they enforce it.
“Of course, it would be unfair. We might as well do something like that also. The Senate might as well file a resolution condemning… whatever they are doing,” Nograles said.
with Hana Bordey @tribunephl_hana