US Senate panel approves reso calling for De Lima release, an end to alleged harassment of Ressa

(Eagle News) — The United States Senate foreign relations committee has approved a resolution calling for Senator Leila de Lima’s release and an end to the Philippine government’s alleged harassment of Rappler’s Maria Ressa.

Senator Dick Durbin made the announcement in a Tweet on his official account:

“Glad to see Senate Foreign Relations Committee pass @SenMarkey’s resolution, that I proudly cosponsored, calling on the government of the Philippines to end the troubling detention of Filipina Senator Leila de Lima and harassment of @rapplerdotcom journalist Maria Ressa,” he had said.

He was referring to Senator Ed Markey, who also hailed the passage of the resolution in a Tweet.

“For over 1,000 days now, @SenLeiladeLima has languished in prison. Her crime: standing for human rights and good governance in the Philippines,” Markey had said.

Durbin and another senator, Patrick Leahy, 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,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo had said.

De Lima is detained in Camp Crame after the Department of Justice found probable cause for her involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.

Ressa, on the other hand, is facing libel and cyber libel charges as CEO of Rappler, which published a story on businessman Wilfredo Keng, who said it was malicious.