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

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The government will require American citizens to secure a visa before coming to the Philippines if a ban imposed by Washington on Philippine officials is imposed, Malacañang said Friday (December 27).

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the threat in a press briefing as he also announced President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the Bureau of Immigration to ban the entry of American Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy into the Philippines.

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.

“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,” Panelo said.

The Palace official said a visa will be required of all American citizens, regardless of the purpose of the visit.

Dual citizens, or Filipinos who also hold an American passport, will also be covered by the visa requirement.

“We will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign estate,” said Panelo.

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.

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

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