Palace slams US senator's 'ignorance' of Philippine legal system

MALACAÑANG on Thursday, October 3, launched a fresh tirade against United States (US) Senator Patrick Leahy for his supposed "sheer ignorance" of the Philippines' judicial system.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Leahy could not comprehend that Manila has "substantive and procedural rules" as the US solon kept on finding fault with the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.

"US Senator Patrick Leahy simply does not get it," Panelo said in a statement.

"The good senator from Vermont, through his spokesperson David Carle, is showing more ignorance and uttering amusing nonsense on a subject matter based on bogus narratives coming from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's vocal and noisy critics and detractors, which constitute a pathetic minority in the country," Panelo added.

The conflict between Panelo and Leahy stemmed from the US Senate appropriations commitee's approval of a proposal to deny entry to Philippine officials involved in the detention of De Lima, a fierce and vocal critic of Duterte.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February 24. 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted high-profile drug lords when she was still the Justice Secretary.

De Lima has denied the allegations hurled against her, and dismissed the charges as part of "political persecution" by Duterte's administration.

Last week, Leahy urged the US Senate to bar Philippine officials who had a hand in De Lima's detention.

On September 27, US Senator Dick Durbin announced that the US Senate appropriations panel approved the amendment he filed with Leahy in connection with the supposedly "politically motivated" imprisonment of De Lima.

Panelo on Sunday, October 29, slammed Leahy for being "ignorant," but the US lawmaker's camp fired back at the Palace official by calling on the Philippine government to subject De Lima to a "fair, public" trial.

Panelo, in response to Leahy's latest appeal, said De Lima was given due process.

"The investigating prosecutor and the judge have found probable cause to pursue charges and issue the warrant of arrest, respectively, against the lady senator. This Senator Leahy's retort only validates his sheer ignorance on our country's substantive and procedural rules," he said.

"Senator De Lima is precisely getting a 'fair, public trial, as due process requires.' It is Senator Leahy who has been undertaking measures to place the case of Senator De Lima outside our legal process and place it in a hostile environment stacked against the Philippine officials," Panelo added.

Panelo then advised Leahy to just focus on the issues concerning the US, instead of meddling in the Philippines' domestic affairs.

He stressed that Leahy should understand that the Philippines is a "separate and independent state."

"His actions smack of interference with due process, particularly that of the People of the Philippines, he claims to promote," he said.

"Mr. Leahy can not be more popish than the Pope. It may be best for him to address the issues his country is facing rather than looking for other concerns which belong to a separate and independent state," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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