December 14, 2019 – Malacañang on Saturday said that the resolution of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations calling for the immediate release of detained Senator Leila de Lima is a “brazen and heedless affront” to the Philippine government and to the country’s sovereignty.
In a statament, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo called the act by the American lawmakers as “undisguised and outrageous,” adding that the Philippines has long ceased to be a colony of the United States.
Panelo highlighted that the US Senate Resolution 142 titled “Condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release, and for other purposes” is viewed by the administration with “grave concern.”
“For the education of the responsible members of the (UE) Committee on Foreign Relations, Senator Leila De Lima and Ms. Maria Ressa are currently facing criminal prosecution for transgression of Philippine laws,” Panelo said.
“They were accorded procedural due process in all stages of their criminal prosecution,” he added.
De Lima is detained at the Philippine Custodial Center in Quezon City for her supposed involvement in unlawful drug trade during her stint as justice secretary under the Aquino administration.
Ressa, on the other hand, is facing one count of tax evasion and three counts of supposed failure to supply correct information in the Income Tax Return for 2015. She was ordered arrested in November 2018 but was freed after posting bail.
Both known to be staunch critics of the government, Panelo maintained that the cases against De Lima and Ressa have nothing to do with their political views on the Duterte administration.
“We call on these US senators to remove the blinders in their eyes and look at the De Lima and Ressa cases not with jaundiced eyes but with studied objectivity and cautious discernment,” he said.
Panelo maintained that Malacañang continues to respect the US Senate and that the warm relationship between the two countries will remain amid the “misguided and intrusive act.” (Juno Buena/AAD)