BREAKING: Palace says entry ban of PH officials in US is ‘true’
MANILA, Philippines — Malacanang has confirmed the entry ban in the United States of Philippine officials believed to have had a hand in the detention of Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sunday.
In an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990 AM, Panelo said it was confirmed by Philippine Ambassador to the US, Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, therefore validating earlier reports that such provision was in effect after US President Donald Trump signed their country’s 2020 budget.
“I was talking to US Ambassador Babe Romualdez. Sinasabi yang chineck daw nila ‘yong batas, meron nga raw. Totoo ‘yong ban (He is saying that they have checked the law, and it’s there. The ban is true),” Panelo said in an interview over Radyo Inquirer 990 AM on Sunday.
Panelo made the clarification a day after pro-Duterte blogger RJ Nieto claimed in his Manila Bulletin column that the ban of Philippine officials was fake, saying it was “nowhere to be found in the final version that was signed by US President Donald Trump” on December 20.
Nieto’s allegation has since made the rounds in social media.
Panelo, who is also President Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel, earlier said that if the ban on Philippine officials entering the US is enforced, the government would, in retaliation, require Americans to secure visa when coming to Manila.
He likewise reiterated that the ban on US Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy — who have pushed for the ban on Philippine officials to the US — stays.
The two senators have been calling for the release of De Lima, who has been detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City over alleged “trumped up” drug charges.
Despite the unprecedented order of Duterte, Panelo was confident the move won’t affect Manila’s diplomatic ties with Washington.
“No. It will not have an effect. we just don’t want that they meddle into our processes,” he said.
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