Palace backs Locsin's call to deny rights advocate entry to PH over drug war criticism

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 12 2019 06:23 PM | Updated as of Nov 12 2019 08:39 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) - Malacañang on Tuesday said it agreed with Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.'s statement that human rights advocate Phelim Kline should be barred from the Philippines if he tries to enter the country to advise Vice President Leni Robredo on the drug war.

“I agree, you know why? He (Kline) has already reached a conclusion: 'This is a murderous country,'” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Tuesday.

"Tapos sasabihin niya aarestuhin si Presidente Duterte? Ano ba 'yan?" Panelo added, referring to Kline's tweet that Duterte "and his henchmen" who started the drug war should be thrown to prison.

(Then he will say President Duterte will be arrested? What is that?)

Kline is a former Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia.

In a tweet, Locsin earlier vowed to deny Kline entry after the latter also tweeted he was coming to Manila to "help" Robredo end the administration’s “murderous” war on drugs.

“Her retarded retinue. Don’t worry; he can’t get into the country,” Locsin said.

“We have to spare Leni the moral moronism of those who use her,” he added.

Although the administration is giving the Vice President a free hand in consulting international experts on the drug war, allowing people like Kline into the country is another story, said Panelo.

“Anybody who gives a conclusion that there has been killings, murders -- without justification -- e may problema sila (they have a problem).”

Panelo said, however, that he is confident Robredo would change her position on the drug war once she experiences firsthand what goes on in the streets. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier called on the Vice President to personally join drug operations so she could "see the realities on the ground," said Panelo.

Robredo, however, deferred to comment when asked on Locsin's vow to deny Kline entry into the country.

"Ako hindi ko nakita, wala namang imbitasyon, walang sulat sa amin so mahirap magcomment. Sa amin lang lahat ng makakatulong welcome,” she said.

(I didn’t see anything. There was no invitation or letter so it’s hard to comment. But for us, everyone who can help is welcome.)

She said her camp has been planning to reach out to international organizations, prioritizing those who can “help us the most.”