MANILA - The Philippine Embassy in the United States on Tuesday told Washington to respect Manila's laws and processes after President Donald Trump signed a measure that may bar officials supposedly behind the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a post on its official Twitter account, the embassy said all countries have the right to decide who to allow or deny entry into their borders.
In the same breath, the post reminded the US to respect Philippine laws and processes, a likely reference to judicial proceedings De Lima is currently going through under Philippine law.
“All countries have the sovereign prerogative to allow or ban individuals from entering their borders. We strongly advise the United States to respect our own laws and processes in the same way that we respect theirs," it said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the measure "has to do with sovereignty."
"Yes, it has to do with sovereignty which if we waive here we may as well waive it to China and give Subic and Clark," he said in a tweet.
The 2020 appropriations bill that Trump signed last Friday includes a provision that allows the US to apply the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and sanction Philippine officials involved in De Lima's arrest and detention on drug charges since 2017.
The law authorizes the US government to sanction those who it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the US.
Among those who may be banned from entering the United States are President Rodrigo Duterte, his spokesman Salvador Panelo, Solicitor General Jose Calida, and Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission chair Dante Jimenez among others.
Malacañang, however, remained unfazed, saying the provision cannot be imposed without "credible information" in De Lima's supposed "wrongful imprisonment."
De Lima, a staunch critic of government's drug war has been detained since February 2017 over allegations that she received payoffs from jailed drug lords during her time as justice chief. She is undergoing trial.
She has repeatedly denied the allegations, blasting her detention as "political persecution."