PHILIPPINE president Rodrigo Duterte has banned two US senators from entering the country and has threatened to require all American citizens to apply for visas before being allowed to visit in response to criticism of his human rights record.
Earlier today, President Duterte ordered the Philippine Bureau of Immigration to deny US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy entry to the country. Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the two senators had introduced a provision in the US national budget prohibiting the entry in the US of Philippine government officials involved in the alleged wrongful detention of opposition critic Senator Leila de Lima on illegal drug charges.
Mr Panelo added: “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. The case of Senator de Lima is not one of persecution but of prosecution and fact, it is already being heard by our courts.’’
He noted that Senators Durbin and Leahy were imperious, uninformed and gullible for believing that Senator de Lima was wrongfully imprisoned. Senator De Lima has been detained since February 2017 over allegations she received payoffs from jailed illegal drug lords when she was head of the Department of Justice.
She has denied the allegations, and accused the Duterte administration of political persecution. Like Nigeria, the Philippines has come under criticism of late for clamping down on opposition figures.