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A ban for a ban: Duterte orders BI to stop entry of 2 pro-De Lima US senators

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President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to stop American Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from entering the Philippines, Malacañang said Friday (December 27).

Durbin and Leahy were behind the provision in the United States 2020 national budget banning the entry of Philippine government officials linked to Senator Leila De Lima’s detention.

“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,” said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a press briefing.

Panelo said the Philippine government “will not sit idly” if American officials continue to meddle with the country’s “processes as a sovereign estate.”

The controversial provision in the US national budget allows US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to “apply sub-section (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of… Senator Leila De Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.”

Sub-section (c) refers to the Global Magnitsy Human Rights Accountability Act, a US law which allows the American government to ban suspected human rights violators from entering the US, as well as freeze their assets.

De Lima has insisted that the drug charges she is facing are part of political persecution.

Panelo, however, dismissed the senator’s claim, saying no less than the Supreme Court upheld the validity of her arrest.

Related story: May bayad na bumisita! PH to require visa for Americans if ban on Pinoy officials enforced

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