(Eagle News)–Senator Leila de Lima on Saturday, Dec. 14, hailed the passage of a United States Senate panel resolution calling for her immediate release and for an end to the alleged harassment of Rappler’s Maria Ressa.
“‘Ive always believed that standing strong for one’s convictions and fighting always for what is true and just, for human rights and humanity have many friends around the globe,” De Lima said in a brief statement from Camp Crame, where she is detained on drug-related charges.
“Thank you U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for S. Res. 142,” she said in her brief statement.
Resolution No. 142 was passed by the panel in November.
But in a statement, the Palace slammed the US Senate panel for the resolution, calling it a “brazen and heedless affront” to the Philippines’ sovereignty.
“It is an undisguised and outrageous intrusion to a sovereign state. There can be no excuse for the US Senate Committee not to know that the Philippines has long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
Panelo said in the first place, both De Lima and Ressa are “currently facing criminal prosecution for transgression of Philippine laws,” saying the courts found probable cause for the charges against them.
De Lima is facing drug-related charges for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.
Ressa, on the other hand, is facing cyberlibel and libel charges over a Rappler story on businessman Wilfredo Keng, which deemed it malicious.
The cases, Panelo said, have absolutely nothing to do with their political views on the Duterte Administration.”
“The record shows that no one has been hailed to court on account of one’s exercise of the freedom of the speech and of the press,” he said.
US Senator Dick Durbin, who had hailed the passage of the resolution, and another senator, Patrick Leahy, had earlier proposed an amendment to the 2020 state and foreign operations appropriations bill banning the entry to the US of any Philippine government official allegedly involved in the “politically motivated imprisonment” of De Lima.
The Palace, however, slammed Leahy for his “ignorance,” noting that De Lima was detained because the investigating prosecutor and the judge have found probable cause to pursue drug-related charges against her and issue the warrant of arrest.
“US Senator Patrick Leahy simply does not get it. The good senator from Vermont, through his spokesperson David Carle, is showing more ignorance and uttering amusing nonsense on a subject matter based on bogus narratives coming from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s vocal and noisy critics and detractors, which constitute a pathetic minority in the country,” Panelo had said.