U.S. Senator Richard Durbin reiterated his call for the Duterte administration to release opposition senator Leila De Lima from her three-year detention, stating that this was an important test of whether President Rodrigo Duterte complied with democratic norms.
In a speech on the floor of the Senate, Durbin urged the Philippine government to give De Lima a “fair and credible” trial rather than “threatening” the travel of the Filipino-Americans with a visa requirement.
He said the detained lawyer was an internationally recognized human rights champion whose criticism of Duterte led to her incarceration.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a ban on Durbin and fellow Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy for allegedly introducing a provision prohibiting political figures involved in the detention of De Lima from entering the United States.
Although Salvador Panelo, the president’s spokesperson, said that American citizens may also be required to obtain a visa, he said that this would not be a requirement for the Filipino-Americans.
In January 2020, Panelo stated that the travel ban to the Philippines had been extended to Senator Edward Markey for his involvement in US Senate Resolution 142, which calls for the release of De Lima.
The opposition senator has been held in Camp Crame since 2017, accused of having been involved in drug trafficking in New Bilibid Prison while she was Secretary of Justice. She denied the allegation.