Palace says Trump's invite stands despite law banning PH officials responsible for De Lima's detention
Malacañang expressed belief on Thursday that US President Donald Trump's invitation to President Rodrigo Duterte to visit Washington remains despite its new law banning Philippine officials responsible for the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the newly approved US law was in ''contradiction''to the standing invitation by Trump for Duterte to visit America.
"That is a contradiction. There is a standing invitation," he said.
Asked what would happen with Trump's invitation, Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said, "The standing invitation stands."
But Panelo said there was no decision yet if Duterte would visit US.
Trump recently signed into law the US budget law, which includes the provision on “Prohibition on Entry” upon approval of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against human rights offenders and to freeze their assets.
De Lima earlier named Duterte, Panelo and some other government officials responsible for the "trump up" charges against her, leading to her arrest and detention.
Panelo expressed belief that the US Secretary of State who would implement the provision of the law would "give an informed, an educated judgment on particular banning of certain people because as we’ve already explained, it’s not a wrongful detention."
"Like me for instance, what in heaven’s name can I be part of the detention of this woman? I’m not even part of the prosecution," he said.
But he reiterated that he was not worried with the ban.
Following the passage of the US law, De Lima expressed hope that this would be her last Christmas in detention.
Panelo said it would be up to the court to decide.
"That’s for the court to decide, not for us," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS