MANILA-- Malacañang on Friday scored a United States Senate panel's proposed travel ban on Filipino officials who were involved in the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that a panel in the US Senate approved an amendment to its pending bill that intends to ban the entry of the involved officials into US territory.
"The Palace considers such undertaking as a brazen attempt to intrude into our country’s domestic legal processes given that the subject cases against the detained senator are presently being heard by our local courts," Panelo said.
"It seeks to place pressure upon our independent institutions thereby effectively interfering with our nation’s sovereignty. It is an insult to the competence and capacity of our duly constituted authorities as such an act makes it appear that this US Senate panel has the monopoly of what is right and just," he added.
Panelo described the move as an "outright disrespect" to the Filipino people's clamor for law and order, saying it treats the Philippines as "an inferior state unqualified to run its own affairs".
"All sensible Filipinos, regardless of their political or social association, should feel affronted and disrespected by this insulting and offensive act," he said.
Consistent with Manila's position against sovereign interference, Panelo said the government will not respond to the group of American legislators by performing any repulsive action to reverse its decision.
"We shall respect their democratic processes, be these in the form of a congressional measure or an immigration policy. We shall leave it to the international community to ascertain which nation values the rule of law in accordance with the principle of state sovereignty," he said.
Meanwhile, he said de Lima is "no prisoner of conscience".
"The fact that she belongs to the political opposition is irrelevant to her charges of illegal drug-related transgressions which she allegedly committed while she was Justice Secretary. The quantum of evidence of probable cause was met, as determined by an independent and competent judge, which caused the issuance of a warrant for her arrest," he said.
Panelo added that the senator is being afforded all her rights to due process and has in fact availed of available legal remedies under the country's procedural rules.
"The Philippines must enforce its laws equally to all its citizens regardless of political and social status. In this part of the world, more particularly under this administration, no one is above the law," he said.
"We continue to mind our own business, as each nation has enough problems that its government should focus on. We hope that the Senate panel of these United States of America shares the same policy," Panelo said. (PNA)