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Duterte bans US Sen. Markey from entering PHL for calling for De Lima release

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the banning of another US lawmaker, Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts, from entering the Philippines in connection with American solons' call to release detained Senator Leila de Lima.

“Yes [the ban is extended] to Markey,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told GMA News Online in a text message.

Duterte earlier banned US Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy from entering the country for calling for de Lima's freedom from detention.

Markey, Durbin and Leahy are three of the 11 sponsors of Senate Resolution 142 passed by the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The said resolution calls for the release of de Lima who has been in detention since February 2017 due to pending two counts of drug-related charges.

Panelo, however, did not respond as to why the said ban does not apply to eight other US senators who sponsored US Senate Resolution 142. These eight include: Marco Rubio, Marsha Blackburn, Chris Coons, Jeff Merkley, Tina Smith, Brian Schatz, Dianne Feinstein and Benjamin Cardin.   

Government prosecutors are accusing de Lima of pocketing money off the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison during her tenure as secretary of the Department of Justice from 2010 to 2016.

De Lima has denied such charges. She in turn accused the government of persecuting her just because she is staunchly against the government’s drug war which has left over 5,700 drug suspects dead without charges or trial.

In calling for de Lima’s release, US Senate Resolution 142 cited that the inmates whom the government prosecutors listed as witnesses against de Lima were the people whose drug business in the national penitentiary were disrupted by a de Lima-led raid in December 2014.

The said raid resulted in the confiscation of drugs, firearms, and contraband items and the extraction of 19 drug lords and high-profile inmates involved in the facility’s drug network.

The resolution also said de Lima simply conducted a Senate probe which allowed alleged former death squad members to reveal details of extrajudicial killings executed as part of the anti drug campaign.

The same US resolution also invoked the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s adopted opinion dated August 24, 2018 which concluded that “Ms. De Lima’s political views and convictions are clearly at the centre of the present case and that the authorities have displayed an attitude towards her that can only be characterized as targeted and discriminatory. Indeed, she has been the target of partisan persecution and there is no explanation for this other than her exercise of the right to express such views and convictions as a human rights defender.” —KG, GMA News