MANILA - (UPDATE) Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday refuted a political blogger's claim that the authority given to the top diplomat of the United States stopping the entry into the US of those behind her detention was fake news.
In a dispatch from Camp Crame where she's detained, De Lima said the entry ban "is in effect."
"In short, it’s not fake news," she said.
This, after US President Donald Trump earlier signed a US budget bill, which includes a provision on “Prohibition on Entry” allowing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “apply sub-section (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of…Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.”
RJ Nieto, also known as Thinking Pinoy, earlier claimed on Saturday that the US 2020 budget law signed by US President Donald Trump did not have a provision authorizing Pompeo to ban those behind the detention of De Lima from entering the US.
In a Manila Bulletin column, Nieto said the “Prohibition on Entry” was "NOWHERE to be found in the final version" of the US 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill signed by Trump.
De Lima, however, said the blogger might have read the final bill, but not the US Congress' omnibus bill in which the “Prohibition on Entry” is stated. An omnibus bill is a type of US legislation that combines many of the smaller ordinary bills of appropriations into one larger single bill that could be approved by each house.
The senator also said that in the US Senate's State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOP) bill report, the provision banning those behind De Lima's detention is stated.
"Hence, it remains in force," she said.
Nieto was one of those who De Lima cited as responsible for her arrest and detention.
The others are:
-President Rodrigo Duterte
-Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo
-Online personalities Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sasot
-Former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Public Attorneys’ Office chief Persida Acosta, Sandra Cam, Dante Jimenez, Reps. Rey Umali and former Rep. Rudy Fariñas.
Panelo, in a statement Sunday, said the ban on foreign officials was confirmed by Philippine Ambassador to the US Babes Romualdez.
However, he said it would be enforceable "only when certain conditions imposed by the US law are met."
De Lima was arrested in February 2017. She was initially charged with illegal drug trading but justice department prosecutors spent months amending the information to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, despite her objection.
De Lima was arraigned in August 2018 or 18 months after she was arrested. Six judges have also withdrawn from handling the cases either by inhibiting from the case or by retiring.
- With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News