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Banned US Senator: Duterte’s strongman tactics can’t silence American solons

January 3, 2020

US Senator Edward Markey, who was banned by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte from entering the Philippines, said he will not be stifled by what he described as a strongman’s move to censor his critics.

The lawmaker from Massachusetts clapped back against the travel ban imposed by the Philippine government for his call to release Senator Leila de Lima from detention.

“President Duterte is sorely mistaken if he thinks he can silence my voice and that of my colleagues. He has already failed to silence Senator De Lima, [journalist] Maria Ressa, and others in his country who have spoken truth to power,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration has been ordered by the administration to refuse entry to Markey and his fellow American Senators Richard “Dick” Durbin and Patrick Leahy.

Durbin and Leahy authored the resolution that bans all Filipino officials who played a role in putting de Lima in jail from entering the United States. The measure became part of the US federal budget for 2020 that was signed by President Donald Trump.

Markey said he will continue to fight for the “highest democratic ideals and against the strongman tactics of the Duterte government.”

De Lima, a member of the opposition and a vocal critic of the bloody war on drugs of the Duterte administration, has been detained since February 2017 for supposedly abetting illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison while she was Justice Secretary from 2010 to 2015.

Durbin has maintained that De Lima has been imprisoned for “highly questionable charges,” even as Malacañang insisted that her detention has legal basis.

Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that should the order banning select Philippine officials from entering the US be implemented, Malacañang will retaliate by requiring all US citizens to secure travel visa before coming to this country.

Under the current setup, US citizens visiting the Philippines do not need to apply for a visa for a stay of not more than 30 days.

Banned US Senator: Duterte’s strongman tactics can’t silence American solons