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Ba’t Kano pinag-iinitan? US senator urges PH: Release De Lima instead of requiring visas for Americans

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An American senator whom President Rodrigo Duterte ordered to be banned from entering the Philippines urged the administration to free Senator Leila De Lima instead of taking retaliatory measures against United States citizens.

US Senator Patrick Leahy said De Lima’s imprisonment have been criticized worldwide by several bodies, including the United Nations, and US State Department.

“Rather than responding by irrationally threatening to deny visas to American citizens, the Duterte government should either release Senator De Lima immediately or provide her the fair, public trial she is entitled to,” he said in a statement issued Saturday (December 28) in the US.

Leahy, together with US Senator Richard Durbin, introduced a provision in the US national budget for 2020 banning the entry into the US of Philippine officials linked to De Lima’s detention.

The provision on the ban was included in the budget law signed by United States President Donald Trump.

In response to the US’ move, Malacañang announced that Durbin and Leahy are banned from entering the Philippines.

The government will also require American citizens to obtain a visa to travel to the Philippines if the ban on Philippine officials pushes through, said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Leahy added that Rappler founder and Chief Executive Officer Maria Ressa should be recognized “as a courageous Filipino” exercising her right to free expression amid the alleged threats she is facing.

In a tweet, Leahy said nothing can stop him from standing up for journalists’ right to report news both in the US and around the world.

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