THE PHILIPPINE Embassy in Washington on Friday warned that the United States Senate Resolution calling for the immediate release of detained Senator Leila de Lima “may be potentially interpreted as posing undue interference” in the country’s domestic affairs.
The resolution, approved at the committee level, condemns the Philippine government for the continued detention of de Lima.
The detained senator was described as a “prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression.” The text also called for the dropping of all charges against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa.
De Lima has been in detention since 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade while Ressa is facing charges for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and cyber libel.
In a statement, the Embassy said de Lima and Ressa’s cases are being handled in accordance with Philippine laws and processes.
“We note the sentiments contained in Senate Resolution 142. As close treaty allies that seek to address common challenges, the Philippines and the United States should focus on what they can do together, including capacity-building for the criminal justice system and related institutions,” it said.
It added that Senate Resolution 142 is “ultimately unhelpful in this regard not only because it may be potentially interpreted as posing undue interference in our domestic affairs, but more importantly because it calls on the Philippine government to pursue actions that undermine the rule of law, which is the very principle that the United States professes to uphold and stand for.”
The resolution, sponsored by US Senator Richard Durbin, Senator Edward Markey, and nine others, also castigates the Philippine government for the deaths related to its anti-illegal drug campaign.
Exactly a month ago, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez met with Markey and Durbin and updated them on the cases of de Lima and Ressa.
Amid the latest developments in the US resolution, the Embassy said the Philippine side remains open to engaging American lawmakers and other stakeholders on the matter.(By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora)
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