Last September 27, United States Senator Dick Durbin announced in Twitter that his and Senator Patrick Leahy’s proposed amendment prohibiting entry to any Philippine Government Officials involved in the imprisonment of Filipina Senator Leila de Lima was approved by the Senate Appropriation’s Committee. Hours after the tweet, high ranking Philippine officials who are allies of President Rodrigo Duterte issued statements lambasting Leahy and Durbin.
But why are they so agitated to the point that Senate President Tito Sotto called the senators as “pakialamero”?
- Guilty feelings. The proposed amendment was clear. (T)he section “Prohibition on Entry” said the US Secretary of State “shall apply subsection (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of…. Senator Leila de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.” If some of these officials were not guilty, then the common reaction should be: “Who cares if I am not allowed in the US as long as I do my job?” And who are among those who were so noisy? Former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who caused the investigation and imprisonment of Delima.
- Fear that they cannot anymore go to the United States. Well, many still look at the US as a “dreamland”. A number of Filipinos also have, in one way or another, a relative in the United States. The prohibition could be a guillotine for the dream or a scissor that could cut the passport to visit a kin. Worse, most of the games of Senator Manny Pacquiao are held in the US. How can they watch the boxing game then?
- Ignorance. or stupidity. Every country and even a city has the right to choose who to admit or deny entry to its territory. Even Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin admitted this when he announced that United Nations (UN) Rapporteur Agnes Callamard will be denied entry to the Philippines. The UN was silent because it is plain and simple common sense. Note that even Davao City was able to declare an “undesirables” list which include Ramon Bautista who became infamous for his “hipon remark”?
- Double Standards. The common reason, which was chewed on by Diehard Duterte Supporters (DDS), is the treatment of the amendment introduced by Leahy and Durbin as tantamount to intrusion on local affairs. The wheels of justice is still moving for De Lima and the US Senators do not know what they are talking about. Unfortunately, those who condemned the amendment were silent when former Ombudsman Conchita Morales and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario were held by the immigration in Hongkong. Clearly, the Duterte allies respected China’s move to deny entry to those the latter calls as “undesirables” — a case of double standard. Lastly, if they are indeed serious in their “domestic intrusion” claim, why are they silent in the earlier move of the United States to use social media information to vet for visa applicants? This is far dangerous because one can immediately be denied entry for a simple statement liked, shared or made against the US.
- Blind obedience. The worst reason is blind obedience to the “higher ups” so they condemned the move of Durbin and Leahy without using the God-given mental faculties. This is common among the trolls and blind followers who would just echo whatever message is downloaded from the top.
Do you also condemn the Durbin and Leahy Amendment? If so, what is your reason for doing so? Feel free to share your comments.