Malacañang and several high ranking Philippine officials decried as intrusion in the Philippine domestic affairs the move of a United States Senate committee to amend a bill and ban the entry in the North American country of Philippine officials involved in the continued detention of Senator Leila de Lima. Is Malacañang and the high ranking officials correct or are they the ones intruding in the domestic affairs of another sovereign?
Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo slammed the move as “a brazen attempt to intrude into our country’s domestic legal processes given that the subject cases against the detained senator are presently being heard by our local courts“. This was echoed by Senate President Tito Sotto who touted the US Senators as “mga pakialamero” adding that the latter do not know what the case is all about.
But let us think this way: When former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario were denied entry in Hong Kong, nobody came to their rescue — even the Philippine Government they both previously served. Instead, the PRRD’s alter ego, Sal Panelo, issued a statement saying:
“I cannot also understand the good ambassador. Why? He knew from the very start that the Hong Kong authorities have detained former Ombudsman [Conchita Carpio] Morales… (I)f I were Del Rosario, I would have not gone to Hong Kong because I’m sure, I would have anticipated, that I would be going [through] the same ordeal like the former Ombudsman did. Now why did he go there? That’s my question to him.”
The only high ranking official who defended Morales was Ted Hui Chi-fung, a Hong Kong lawmaker who criticized the action as “barbaric.”
In simple terms, the Philippine government admits that foreign countries have the right to deny or admit entry to individuals other than their citizens. And that includes the United States whose legislators can define who to bar or to admit. Just like how Ramon Bautista was declared persona non grata in Davao City over a “hipon” remark.
Apart from that “inalienable right”, the Philippines has also given the United States a “handle of control” — the aids. As US Senator Patrick Leahy spilled in a statement, “Every year, the United States provides large amounts of aid to the Philippines, and I have supported that aid. I assume President [Rodrigo] Duterte’s spokesman who defended the wrongful imprisonment of Senator De Lima does not consider our aid to be ‘interfering’ in their sovereignty.”
Leahy’s statement is an outright slap on the face of pro-Duterte defenders who claim that the Philippines has shaken free of US control but that is another story. The point is: The Philippines is still in the position where it cannot dictate things. Not yet.
So is the US justified in banning entry to those involved in the De Lima case? What do you think? Don’t forget to leave your comments.