A third American senator has been subjected to a travel ban to the Philippines for his reported support of denying Philippine government officials entry into the U.S. if they were involved in Senator Leila De Lima’s arrest and detention.
Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey on Thursday said that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration had confirmed he was barred due to his denouncements on the human rights situation in the country.
Despite this, Markey in a statement said he won’t be silenced by the Philippine government’s actions.
“President [Rodrigo] Duterte is sorely mistaken if he thinks he can silence my voice and that of my colleagues,” the senator said in a statement.
The U.S. senator pointed out that Duterte already failed to silence De Lima and Rappler chief Maria Ressa, as well as others in the country who have spoken truth to power.
“I stand with the people of the Philippines with my state’s vibrant Filipino American community in fighting for the highest democratic ideals and against the strongman tactics of the Duterte government,” Markey said.
Recently, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the country’s 2020 budget, which included an amendment 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 of… Sen. Leila De Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.”
On December 27, 2019, Duterte instructed the Philippine Bureau of Immigration “immediately” to deny U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy entry into the Philippines after they pushed for the provisions in the national budget.
Along with that, Duterte is also considering requiring American citizens to secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory.
Following Durbin’s statement calling the administration’s travel ban an “insult” to the Filipino American community, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said imposing visa requirements on foreign nationals is “an exercise of a sovereign right and is not an insult to any particular community.”
“In fact, they have been requiring Filipinos to secure a U.S. visa before we can travel into their homeland. As the community of nations believes in, ‘diplomacy is equality,’” the spokesperson added. (AJPress)