Bong Go to check US visa status, denies political persecution vs De Lima

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 23 2020 11:13 AM

Senator Bong Go attends the Committee on Public Services hearing at the Senate on December 11, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Sen. Bong Go on Thursday said he will check on the status of his US visa after the travel permit of his ally, Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, was canceled.

Dela Rosa, an ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, backed moves to detain Sen. Leila De Lima after drug convicts accused her of alleged involvement in the production and sale of narcotics in the national penitentiary during her stint as Justice secretary.

"I can only infer that maybe this is pursuant to the US 2020 federal budget which includes a provision banning entry to the US of certain Philippine government officials involved in the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima," Go said in a statement.

"If it is, I have said this many times before and I am saying this again. De Lima's detention is in obedience to a lawful order of the trial court. De Lima and her lawyer/s were given their day in open court," he said.

"Walang political persecution sa kaso ni de Lima."

(There was no political persecution in De Lima's case.)

De Lima - one of Duterte's most vocal critics - has been detained in the Philippine National Police's headquarters in Quezon City since February 2017, despite continuously denying her alleged involvement in illegal drugs. 

Dela Rosa - Duterte's first appointed police chief when he ascended to the presidency - earlier said the cancellation of his 10-year, multiple entry visa may be linked to his participation in the President's bloody war on drugs.

Go to check own US visa

Go said he will check the status of his US visa as soon as Duterte decides to attend the US-ASEAN summit in Las Vegas in March.

"Mamaya ko na check kung meron na sked going sa USA. So far wala pa," he said, noting that he has been looking forward to travel to the US for the first time.

(I will check it later when there is already a schedule going to the USA. So far there is no schedule yet.)

"Excited pa naman ako makapunta first time sa USA sa US-ASEAN Summit pero di naman sigurado," he told ABS-CBN News in a text message.

(I was excited to go to the USA for the first time to attend the US-ASEAN Summit, but that's still not certain.)

Despite the cancellation of his ally's visa, Go said he is still willing to travel to the US for leisure should Duterte decide to decline US President Donald Trump's invitation to join the Nevada conference.

"I recognize that the issuance of a visa is an exclusive exercise of sovereignty of the country issuing it. There is no question about that," he said.

"Maybe pag pasok na Lakers sa finals, hopefully makapunta. If not, sa TV na lang ako manonood," he said.

(Maybe when the Lakers makes it to the finals, I can hopefully go. If not, I'll just watch it on TV.)