Palace says Duterte administration won't be bullied by US Senate
Malacanang said on Friday the Duterte administration would not allow itself to be bullied by the US Senate, which passed a resolution seeking sanctions against Philippine government officials responsible for the continued detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima allegedly based on trump up charges.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said US Senate Resolution 142, "condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila de Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes," was a form of bullying.
"These latest actions of the US Senate are a form of bullying on the part of a particular institution of a foreign country. We will not be bullied by any foreign country or by its officials, especially by misinformed and gullible politicians who grandstand at our expense," he said.
While the Philippine government respects the US Senate as an institution, Panelo, who is also the chief presidential legal counsel, said the Palace finds the posture and conviction of its "prejudiced members misguided."
He said the American senators who supported the resolution sponsored by Senator Edward Markey anchored their move on an "erroneous premise culled from bogus narratives of President (Rodrigo) Duterte's usual antagonists."
"Such actions are brazen and intrusive to the dignity of an independent, democratic and sovereign state such as ours," he said as the Palace expresses its disappointment over the resolution.
Resolution 142 calls upon US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions on Philippine government officials allegedly behind the arrest and detention of De Lima and on the supposed extrajudicial killings in the country. It also condemns the alleged harassment by the government against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.
"If and when these calls materialize, the Palace considers the same as a direct and shameless affront against the Republic of the Philippines, which has longed ceased to be a colony of the United States of America," Panelo said.
He reiterated that the cases against De Lima and Ressa have nothing to do with their political views on the Duterte administration or their affiliation with the political opposition.
He stressed that De Lima and Ressa's being critics of Duterte and administration would not shield them from criminal prosecution should they violate the law as in their present cases.
Panelo said the two have been criminally charged in accordance with the law and they are availing of legal remedies for their defense.
The government has been pursuing De Lima, a known critic of Duterte even when he was still a mayor, for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary when she was still the Justice secretary during the previous administration. Ressa, on the other hand, is facing various charges such as violations of the tax code, cyber libel, Anti Dummy Law and the Securities Regulation Code.
On the drug-related deaths, Panelo stressed that they were not state-initiated.
He reiterated that the deaths occurred due to the "violent resistance" of the suspects in buy-bust operations and police raids.
He said the law enforcers were just resorting to self-defense as sanctioned by law.
"This government adheres strictly to the rule of law," Panelo said.
Government authorities have said that over 5,000 individuals have been killed in the police operations since the war on drugs was launched in July 2016. The concerned government agencies have kept on adjusting the figures as prior to the latest data, the number already surpassed 6,000.
"On the issue of security assistance, our policy is not to accept any foreign assistance conditioned upon the permission of interference with the internal policies or affairs of the Philippines. We will decline offers that go against this policy," Panelo said.
An updated version of the resolution also reportedly asked Trump to ensure that the aid given by the US to the Philippine National Police is in accordance with the human rights condition in its Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Celerina Monte/DMS