U.S. lawmakers must come clean

The American legislators who recently visited the country as part of their Asian tour should have cleared the air regarding their past allegations on the government that remain a thorn in the relations between both countries.

The group, led by Senator Edward J. Markey, chairperson of the United States Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, ended with a controversial visit to drug trafficking suspect former senator Leila de Lima.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte had banned Markey from visiting the Philippines in retaliation to his resolution that sought to apply the Global Magnitsky Act to impose sanctions on Philippine officials responsible for “orchestrating the arrest and prolonged detention” of De Lima.

Mr. Duterte, to assert fair treatment, even threatened to revoke the privilege of Americans to enter the country visa-free.

“If you do that (bar Philippine officials from the US), then, I will not allow the Americans to enter the Philippines without a visa. They should get a visa from our embassies there. As of now, they come and enter as if they own the place,” he said.

Then chief presidential legal counsel and spokesperson Salvador Panelo said any form of pressure by other states that is tantamount to interference in the Philippines’ established justice system “shall be reciprocated.”

The US Senate still passed the resolution, which effectively restricted those arbitrarily accused Philippine officials from stepping on American soil.

The government reciprocated by banning Markey and the other US legislators involved in the measure from entering the country.

Apparently, the ban on Markey and company has been lifted, while those they earlier accused, which included some incumbent Philippine senators, remain on the restricted list in the US.

The US legislators did not even have the decency of informing their counterparts in the Philippines that they were barred from entering the US.

Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa found out that his visa was canceled when he inquired with the US Embassy.

“There was no reason given, only that should I want to apply for another visa, I will have to reapply subject to US immigration laws,” De la Rosa said.

De la Rosa added he had to get prior information from US embassy insiders about the travel restriction.

Markey’s sudden visit without any regard to his past actions is a huge insult to the nation.

The US Senate resolution remains in force, which acts like a Damocles sword on the whole nation and a reminder that the American government can do anything it wants and that the only requirement from the Philippines is to comply.

A bigger anomaly is that he was the supposed head of the US legislative mission to improve relations with the country under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Among the legacies of Mr. Duterte is the restoration of Filipinos’ dignity, which gave strength to the nation in standing up against meddling from powerful foreign interests.

Hopefully, such gains are not squandered.

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