US senators 'hell-bent' on barring PH execs behind De Lima detention: Panelo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 02 2020 12:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 02 2020 12:51 PM

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MANILA - US senators are "hell-bent" on imposing sanctions against Philippine officials allegedly behind the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, Malacañang said Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Philippine Ambassador to the US Babes Romualdez has spoken with US senators to explain the country's judicial process.

"They didn’t want to listen to reason," Panelo told ANC's Early Edition.

"He (Romualdez) told them the processes in this country they should be respected and explained to him, as explained to the US ambassador, how the processes went through."

Panelo added that he spoke with US ambassador Sung Kim at a private gathering after US President Donald Trump signed a measure directing the US Secretary of State to apply the law banning human rights violators from entering American soil.

"He told me he read my statement and he agreed with it. I think all the statements," he said.

"I issued a statement regarding how these US senators are either uninformed or so gullible to believe in whatever information they receive whether it’s false or not. He said I agree with your statement."

Panelo maintained that the ban was conditional after a staff member of US Sen. Patrick Leahy, who was among those who introduced the provision, said there was a congressional directive to “apply the law" in De Lima's case.

"Still it's on the part of the Secretary of State, he has to determine if there is information credible enough to demonstrate a wrongful detention on the senator," he said.

De Lima's case underwent due process, Panelo reiterated as he urged US lawmakers to respect the country's sovereignty.

"You interfere with our processes, you are violating our sovereignty. Like for instance, what if we ask the US Congress to stop the impeachment of Mr. Trump. Is that not a violation? You’re trying to interfere with our processes. It’s the same," he said.

"If the Supreme Court has already decided on the legality of the same, then they should as a matter accept the decision of the highest court of the land."

Should the US push through with the ban on Filipino officials over De Lima's case, Panelo has said Americans planning to visit the Philippines would be required to secure a visa.

"They should realize the gravity of they have done," he said.