Philippine Ambassador to the United States meets with US Senators seeking de Lima release

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez on Wednesday met with two American lawmakers seeking for the immediate release of Senator Leila de Lima.

“Upon the request of Senator (Dick) Durbin, I came here to the Capitol to meet with both Senator Durbin and Senator (Edward) Markey. We had discussions on the issues surrounding the case of Senator de Lima and Maria Ressa,” he said in a video statement taken by the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

Romualdez said he would continue to interact with the senators concerned, especially Durbin, and update them on the cases.

Durbin and Markey, together with three other US lawmakers filed Senate Resolution 142 in April 2019 condemning the Philippine government for the continued detention of de Lima.

“We simply discussed the status of the cases of Senator de Lima and Maria Ressa. (Based) on the status provided to us by the Dept. of Justice thru the DFA. The resolution is still on the floor of the US Congress,” Romualdez said.

The US senators called de Lima as “a prisoner of conscience, detained solely on account of her political views” and called on the administration for her immediate release

De Lima has been in detention since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade. The detained lawmaker denied the charges.

The resolution also called for the Philippines to drop the cases against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa, who is facing charges for violation of the Anti-Dummy Law and cyberlibel filed by a private individual.

Durbin was also among those who filed an amendment to the 2020 State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) appropriations bill to include a ban on the entry to the US of Philippine government officials involved in de Lima’s imprisonment. (PNA)

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