United States Senator Edward Markey on Friday vowed to continue to fight what he called the “strongman tactics” of President Rodrigo Duterte, and even after he was barred from entering the Philippines for his support to detained Senator Leila de Lima.
“President Duterte is sorely mistaken if he thinks he can silence my voice and that of my colleagues, Markey said in a statement.
Markey, along with US lawmakers Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, sponsored Senate Resolution 142 urging the Philippine government to release De Lima, who has been in detention since February 2017 due to drug charges.
De Lima on Friday defended renowned activist and author of the New York Times bestseller “Red Notice” Bill Browder against the coordinated political attacks from the Duterte camp on social media.
De Lima made the remark after Browder was attacked by the paid trolls and pro-Duterte bloggers for tirelessly campaigning to impose sanctions against human rights abusers from across the world, including De Lima’s persecutors, through the Magnitsky Act.
“Attacks vs you are proof that rights abusers in PH have been notified alright. In fact, they're now erasing their dirty tracks, but the door to the world is closing in on them! Clock is ticking down, De Lima's post on Twitter read.
“It looks like the troll armies got their envelopes. Apart from deleting their evil tracks, they are now busy spreading fake news that have long been debunked.”
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed Resolution 142 that said the inmates whom the government prosecutors listed as witnesses against De Lima had drug businesses in the national penitentiary that were disrupted during her term as Justice secretary.
In an apparent retaliation, Malacañang later announced that Duterte had ordered the Bureau of Immigration to refuse the entry of Durbin, Leahy and Markey in the country.
The Palace also said the resolution was an interference in the country’s legal processes.
Markey said Duterte had failed to silence his critics and should realize intimidation does not work.
“I stand with the people of the Philippines and with my state痴 vibrant Filipino-American community in fighting for the highest democratic ideals and against the strongman tactics of the Duterte government, Markey said.
“He has already failed to silence Senator De Lima, Maria Ressa, and others in his country who have spoken truth to power.”
De Lima, a vocal critic of the administration’s anti-drug campaign, called for a Senate probe over a “death squad” that allegedly conducts vigilante-style killings of drug suspects.
Ressa runs the news website Rappler that has been slapped with multiple tax-evasion raps.
De Lima and Ressa have both denied the charges against them, saying such raps were filed due to their criticisms of the administration. With Macon Ramos-Araneta