Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. categorized as “perfect” the relationship between the United States and the Philippines amid the possible travel ban on Filipino officials and a US Senate resolution condemning the government over the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
“(It’s) perfect… that’s the legislative branch. The same in Europe, sometimes the legislative branch in the European Parliament says something against us,” the Filipino top diplomat told reporters in an interview when asked to comment about the recent moves on de Lima’s release at the US Senate, particularly a provision on the US national budget.
The said US appropriations law includes a provision allowing the State Department to ban the entry of Philippine government officials involved in jailing de Lima to the US.
Locsin recognized that any country has the right to ban foreign nationals from its borders, but he defended the legality of De Lima’s detention, saying the Supreme Court itself has said so.
“Read the (US) resolution, the resolution says we are giving authority to the executive branch to look into these people who may have been responsible for the illegal detention of de Lima. My answer is, illegal? Who said it’s illegal? The Supreme Court said no, it’s legal, so who would you believe?” he said.
De Lima, one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest critics, has been in detention since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Aside from the US national budget provision, de Lima’s case was also brought up at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which recently approved Senate Resolution 142 that condemns the Philippine government for the continued detention of de Lima.
When asked how these latest developments in Washington DC would affect President Duterte’s supposed US trip, Locsin said the decision would still depend on the chief executive.
“Ang problema hindi possibility (The problem is not whether it’s possible) if he will go, it’s whether he wants to go. He has had so many invitations already from President Trump, he really likes Duterte,” he said. (PNA)