Senator Leila M. de Lima has slammed the Duterte administration for resorting to name-callings and ad hominem attacks against US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy who proposed a visa ban to government officials responsible for her imprisonment.
De Lima said the personal attacks against Senators Durbin and Leahy only showed that the present administration and its allies in Congress are hell-bent on covering up, if they are not guilty about, her continued political persecution and unjust detention.
“Instead of responding like honorable gentlemen and leaders, our officials unfortunately resorted to name-callings and ad hominem attacks on Senators Durbin and Leahy, and much less, propose ridiculous sanctions just to get back at them,” she said.
“Sinisiraan at inaaway nila ang mambabatas ng Estados Unidos, kaya napaghahalataan silang mayroon pinagtatakpan, kung hindi man talagang guilty sila, sa ginagawang panggigipit at inhustisya laban sa akin ng rehimeng ito,” she added.
Recently, Durbin and Leahy introduced an amendment to the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill to deny the entry of any Philippine government official involved in what they called De Lima’s “wrongful imprisonment.”
Last Sept. 27, the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment that did not sit well with some lawmakers here, some of whom even proposed to impose a similar entry ban against Senators Durbin and Leahy from entering the country.
Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez pounced at Durbin and called him “moron” and “stupid” for supposedly interfering with domestic affairs, criticizing him for showing what he deemed as “misguided messianic complex” for treating the country as an American colony.
House Minority Leader Benny Abante Jr., for his part, accused the two US lawmakers as bullies who supposedly pressure Philippine officials into freeing De Lima.
Meanwhile, after deploring it as a “brazen” intrusion on Philippine internal affairs, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo called Leahy as “ignorant” who he accused of speaking without “an iota of proof” for proposing the “entry ban.”
In retort, Leahy argued that the US government which provides large amounts of aid to the Philippines, has a “responsibility to respond” against Philippine officials who abuse the justice system for political retribution.
Leahy’s spokesman David Carle said the US Senator will not dignify the personal attacks levelled against him by Panelo and others, but instead will refer to them to latest human rights report released by the US State Department on the Philippines.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that she feels ashamed by the way Panelo and others resorted to personal attacks against respected senior members of US Senate instead of refuting the State Department’s human rights reports on the Philippines. “Instead of pithy name-callings, this administration must focus on addressing the continuing concerns about the unprecedented killings and deteriorating human rights situation in the country, often targeting the poor and Duterte’s perceived enemies, among others,” she said.
In its 2018 Annual Global Human Rights Report issued last March 13, the US State Department noted “numerous reports that government security agencies and their informal allies committed arbitrary or unlawful killings in connection with the government-directed campaign against illegal drugs.”
The US Human Rights Report cited also De Lima as one of the political prisoners in the Philippines who has been arbitrarily detained due to bogus illegal drug trading charges filed against her by the Duterte administration.
The lady Senator from Bicol said Panelo as well as other administration officials should know better about her political persecution because they are aware how she was “proclaimed guilty of drug charges by the government even before any formal charges were filed against me.”