Palace says US senators' resolution "outrageous intrusion" on Philippine sovereignty
Malacanang said on Monday the resolution by five US senators condemning alleged human rights violations by the Duterte administration was an "outrageous intrusion" into Philippine sovereignty.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that these foreign lawmakers should not dictate on what the Philippines should do.
"It’s an outrageous intrusion into our sovereignty. They have no business dictating on us on what we are going to do with suspected criminals in this country," he said.
US Senators Edward Markey, Marco Rubio, Richard Durbin, Marsha Blackburn, and Chris Coons filed a resolution raising the cases of detained Senator Leila de Lima and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained due to illegal drug charges, which she denied, saying she is a victim of political persecution under the current government.
Ressa, on the other hand, has been charged in relation to the alleged violation of Rappler on foreign ownership and tax evasion.
Panelo said all issues raised on the cases of De Lima and Ressa have been properly answered by the administration.
"The rule of law was followed relative to their cases. The judicial courts have found probable cause that’s why they’re facing trial now," he said.
As to the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country, Panelo said they were not state-sponsored.
"We said that this is the result of police enforcement people defending themselves against the lethal violence inflicted on them by the members of the illegal drug industry; or is a result of rivalry among the members of the syndicate - botched deals and even swindling among themselves; as well as preempted protective measures so that they will not be prosecuted when they are being pointed at by surrenderees. It’s not state-initiated nor state-sponsored," he explained.
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said the US senators should have at least approached the Philippine government for an explanation instead of believing on the propaganda made by Duterte's critics.
"Apparently, these senators have been fed with false narratives on these issues, and naively believed hook, line and sinker," he said.
"Because their attitude should be - if they want to know what is happening in this country - is to send someone to have an independent probe, or write us formally so that the government can respond properly to whatever issues or questions they want to be answered," he added.
Pressed if the US senators could come to the county and look into the alleged human rights violations, Panelo said, "they can do it silently, by just communicating...by just writing us on a particular issue and we will respond, we can send them documents."
The Duterte administration earlier put some conditions before allowing the entry of UN rapporteur to conduct probe into the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. But the rapporteur found the conditions unacceptable.
Panelo also said US senators should instead focus on their own problems than looking into the Philippine issues.
"They have no business?they have enough problems for themselves, they have to focus on that," he said.
"And as we know, the Americans are known to be, known to be protector of violation of human rights, even if history shows that, as the President says, they’re violators of the same," he added.
Over 5,000 individuals have been killed in the government's anti-drug operations since July 2016 shortly after Duterte assumed the presidency, official data said. Celerina Monte/DMS