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12月28日のまにら新聞から

Duterte orders ban vs 2 US senators; may require visa for Americans before entering PH

[ 714 words|2019.12.28|英字 ]

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Immigration to ban two US senators from entering the Philippines and possibly requiring visa to all Americans intending to visit the country.

American Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, who pushed for the inclusion of a provision in the US budget law banning Filipino government officials responsible for the detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima from entering in the US territory, are barred in the Philippines, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

"The President is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, the imperious, uninformed and gullible American legislators who introduced the subject provision in the US 2020 Budget, entry to the Philippines," he said in a press briefing.

"Should a ban from entry into US territory be enforced against Philippine officials involved in - or by reason of - Senator de Lima's lawful imprisonment, this government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory," he added.

He said Duterte directed him to issue such statement during his talk with him on Thursday night.

Panelo said the possible securing of a visa first before entering the Philippines would cover former Filipinos who are now American citizens.

According to the US Embassy website, US citizens planning to enter and visit the Philippines for 30 days or less do not need a visa prior to travel to the country, provided their US passport is valid and they have a valid return ticket.

However, in excess of 30 days, US citizens must either apply for a visa at the nearest Philippine Consular Establishments in the US prior to travel or upon arrival in the Philippines at the BI.

Panelo, also the chief presidential legal counsel, called the provision on the US budget law regarding De Lima as "inefficacious," stressing that the Filipino senator was not "wrongfully imprisoned" and "therefore, the impossibility for the US Secretary of State to receive 'credible information' with regard thereto."

The US 2020 Budget law authorizes US Secretary of State to ban government officials in the Philippines from entering their territory whom he he "has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of [...] Senator Leila de Lima."

Panelo reiterated that De Lima's case was not one of persecution but of prosecution.

He said that de Lima is being tried by the Philippine courts and even the Supreme Court has ruled on the validity of her detention.

"No other state can dictate upon our officials, judges, and justices the method upon which we enforce or interpret our laws vis-à-vis those who are believed to have committed a violation against the same," he said.

"We reiterate that the Philippines and we specifically address this to the senators named...that we, the Philippines is an independent and sovereign state. It stands in parity with all other states, including the US, and any form of pressure that is tantamount to an interference into its established justice system shall be reciprocated in accordance with our municipal law, as well as public international law or the law of the nations," said Panelo whom De Lima named as one of those government officials responsible for her detention.

"In other words, we will not sit idly if they continue to interefere with our processes as a sovereign state," he added.

De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte, has been detained since February 2017 after she was charged for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary when she was still the secretary of the Department of Justice during the previous administration. She has been denying the allegation.

Asked of the possible repercussion on the Philippine economy, particularly on tourism, with the possibility of requiring visa to American citizens, Panelo said Duterte factored in all the circumstances when he made such a decision.

As to the standing invitation of US President Donald Trump for Duterte to visit Washington, the spokesman said the President has no intention from the start of going to the US.

Even if Trump signed the budget law, which contains the provision regarding De Lima, he said Duterte was not taking it against his US counterpart.

Duterte considers Trump as his friend. Celerina Monte/DMS