Not your vassal: PH senators rebuke Americans for asking gov’t to drop charges against Ressa and de Lima

Senators Gregorio Honasan, Vicente Sotto, and Panfilo Lacson. Photo: ABS-CBN News for Sotto and Lacson’s photos/ Senate and Honasan’s FB for his photo.
Senators Gregorio Honasan, Vicente Sotto, and Panfilo Lacson. Photo: ABS-CBN News for Sotto and Lacson’s photos/ Senate and Honasan’s FB for his photo.

Resolution versus resolution.

Almost a week after United States senators filed a resolution asking the Philippine government to drop all charges against Senator Leila de Lima and journalist Maria Ressa, Philippine senators filed a resolution yesterday afternoon calling out the American lawmakers.

The existence of this counter resolution was announced today on the Philippine Senate’s website. Aside from castigating the U.S. senators who filed their resolution last week, they also rebuked the American congresspersons who filed a resolution in March calling for de Lima’s release.

Senate Resolution 1037 was filed by Panfilo Lacson, Vicente “Tito” Sotto, and Gregorio Honasan to call out all the American politicians involved, saying that the resolutions they filed were “inappropriate.” They also said the resolutions of the Americans were “an affront to the sovereignty” of the Philippines.

A copy of the resolution was uploaded on Lacson’s website.

In their resolution, the three Filipino lawmakers said that since de Lima and Ressa’s cases have already been filed in the courts, the Philippine government cannot do anything but to let “the wheels of justice take its course.” They also said that despite being jailed, de Lima continues to work as a senator and has even filed bills and resolutions.

The three senators also said that Ressa was not sued for her perceived anti-government stance, but because she allegedly violated certain laws such as the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, the Anti-Dummy Law, and the National Internal Revenue Code.

As early as Sunday, Lacson vented his annoyance at the American senators’ resolution. He wrote on Twitter: “We are not their (U.S.) colony. We have a Constitution that provides for three (3) co-equal branches and a judicial system where due process is followed, regardless of its flaws and weaknesses.”

Lacson continued to rebuke the U.S. lawmakers yesterday and wrote on Twitter that the Americans shouldn’t interfere with the Philippines’ judicial system.

Obviously miffed, he wrote: “We’re not your vassal. Ours is a sovereign state, equal in stature to that of the USA. Supremacism has no place in a civilized world regardless of race, color, and status in wealth or power.”

Last week, the five American senators said in their resolution that de Lima’s imprisonment for drug-related cases was arbitrary and called for reparations and an investigation as to why she was jailed. They also said that Ressa was being harassed and that the local media should be allowed by the Duterte government to work freely.

Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on Monday that the U.S. senators’ resolution was “an outrageous interference” with the Philippines’ sovereignty.

Meanwhile, the resolution filed by U.S. congresspersons last month also accused the Duterte government of perpetrating extra-judicial killings of suspects in its drug war campaign.

De Lima was jailed for drug-related charges in February 2017. She has been accused of receiving money from drug dealers back when she was Department of Justice secretary. In an interview with Al Jazeera, the senator said the charges were “total, absolute lie[s] and fabrications.”

On the other hand, the embattled Ressa has been facing a slew of charges including tax evasion and cyber libel. She said the charges were politically-motivated due to Rappler’s strained relationship with Duterte.

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