US ban? Panelo unfazed, says 'it's not the only country you can go to'

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2019 04:50 PM

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo. Yancy Lim, Presidential Photo

MANILA- Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo dismissed Monday the possibility that the United States would deny him entry in light of a proposal to ban Philippine officials involved in the detention of one of President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critics.

US Senators Patrick Leahy and Dick Durbin have proposed to ban Philippine officials involved in the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima. 

"It’s not the only country that you can go to and enjoy the sites and the sounds," Panelo said in response to a query, adding that he has been to the US "several times."

Panelo earlier said the US Senate's move is a "brazen" attempt to intrude into the Philippines' internal affairs, saying it treats Manila as an "inferior state."

He also reiterated Monday that De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critics, was afforded due process.

"...The records will speak to us that every step of the way that Senator de Lima was given all her rights, due process was strictly observed," Panelo said.

De Lima has been detained since February 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords when she was still justice secretary — an allegation she dubbed as "political persecution."

De Lima, 60, is not entitled to bail and if found guilty, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.