Senator Christopher Go recently invited U.S. government officials to the Philippines so they can see for themselves the extent of the country’s drug problem.
This invitation came after President Donald Trump signed the U.S. 2020 budget that included a provision denying entry to those involved in the arrest and detention of Senator Leila De Lima.
“Washington said the Philippines and the U.S. are friends. As a true friend, if you have anything against what we’re doing, don’t you think the question you should ask first is: “Is there anything we can do to help?” Go said.
“Maybe, so they can understand what’s really happening in our country. I’m inviting U.S. government officials to come here to the Philippines, so you can personally witness the actual situation. So you can see how drugs are destroying Filipino families,” he added.
Go urged Washington to “understand where Filipinos are coming from,” adding that the majority of Filipinos support President Duterte and his policies.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, meanwhile, said U..S policies must be respected.
“The friendship between the Philippines and the U.S. should not be affected by this wayward provision,” he said.
According to him, barring the entry of any foreigner into its territory is “US’ right as stated in its Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 or the McCarran-Walter Act.”
“Even without that rider provision in the budget, every sovereign state has the right to forbid the entrance of foreigners within its borders,” Tolentino said.
“We should respect the immigration laws of the U.S. On the other hand, as a sovereign state, the Philippines deserves respect for its judicial system and the application of its penal laws within its territory, upon the highest consideration of international comity and as an act of state,” he added.
U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy included the provisions as amendments to the U.S. Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations, stating that the U.S. Secretary of State “shall apply sub-section (c) to foreign government officials about whom the secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment ofâ€¦ Sen. Leila de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.”
The section entitled “Prohibition on Entry” also called for the same sanctions for government officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey for the detention of a U.S. citizen.
De Lima, for her part, said her gratitude to the U.S. Congress was “overwhelming.”
“This development signals the fact that impunity cannot last and that one way or another, justice will catch up with those who choose to do injustice to others. This also signifies a solid recognition by the U.S. government that I am a clear victim of political persecution,” the opposition senator said in a handwritten statement.