Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has chided a pro-administration blogger for failing to do a diligent work in proving that the United States’ (US) entry ban imposed on government officials responsible for her wrongful imprisonment was fake news.
De Lima said the entry ban against her persecutors is, in fact, already in effect after the US Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPs) Bill which includes such provision was signed into law by President Trump last Dec. 20.
“[I]nterpreting US Appropriations Law requires more due diligence than just looking at one document and, thereafter, promptly concluding that it does not contain the provision banning my persecutors from entry into the US,” she said in her recent Dispatch from Crame No. 687.
“The entry ban is in effect. In short, it’s not fake news,” added De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime.
Last Dec. 20, US President Trump signed into law the US Fiscal Year 2020 SFOPs Bill which includes a provision banning the entry of Philippine government officials responsible for De Lima’s wrongful detention.
The provision, introduced by US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy, stated that the US Secretary of State shall apply the subsection on the prohibition of entry “to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima.
Last Dec. 28, former DFA consultant Rey Joseph Nieto claimed that the entry ban of Philippine government officials was purportedly “fake” because he was not able to find reference on De Lima in the final version signed by President Trump.
Nieto, known by his monicker as “Thinking Pinoy,” bragged about in his latest column in the Manila Bulletin that his perusal of the appropriations measure did not show any reference to “De Lima” or her “wrongful imprisonment.”
De Lima pointed out that Nieto might have perused the final bill, but not the US Congress’ omnibus bill in which the “Prohibition on Entry” is stated, adding that the operations of the US Federal Government are “very broad and complex.”
“In this case, the US Congress passed a large, single appropriations bill called an ‘omnibus bill’, in which the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations (SFOPs) language is included. The Final Bill is what you have presumably browsed,” she said.
“But the omnibus bill includes by reference as an intrinsic part thereof the Final Explanatory Statement, which makes reference to accompanying guiding reports,” she added.
In the US Senate’s SFOPs bill report, the former justice secretary maintained that the provision banning her persecutors is clearly stated. “Hence, it remains in force,” she said.
Nieto is included in the initial list that De Lima has identified among the government officials responsible for her wrongful imprisonment. He once served as head of the Strategic Communications Unit under the Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
In October 2017, Nieto, along with his fellow pro-Duterte blogger Mike Acebedo Lopez, posed taunting photos outside De Lima’s Senate office in an apparent attempt to mock the Senator who was detained over trumped-up illegal drug charges.