PH envoy meets US senators to discuss De Lima release


Posted at Nov 13 2019 08:03 AM

Philippine Embassy in Washington

MANILA—Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez on Wednesday (Manila time) met with several American senators to discuss the imprisonment of Sen. Leila De Lima and charges filed against news site Rappler.

Upon the request of US Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, Romualdez talked with Durbin and US Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the Philippine Embassy in Washington said in a statement.

The Philippine envoy will continue to engage with US lawmakers on these issues and all aspects of the Philippines-US relations, the embassy added.

Durbin and Markey were among 6 US senators who filed a resolution in March 2019 calling for De Lima's release.

De Lima, a fierce critic of the administration's war on drugs, has been detained since Feb. 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords at the National Bilibid Prison when she was still justice secretary. She denied wrongdoing.

They also urged government to upheld freedom of the press and drop charges against Rappler and its CEO, Maria Ressa.

The news site, known for critical reportage on the Duterte administration, are facing several cases including libel and tax-related charges.

Durbin also filed an amendment in the 2020 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) appropriations bill to deny entry of any Philippine government officials in the US who are involved in De Lima's imprisonment.