Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte has banned two United States senators from entering the country, and threatened to require all U.S citizens to apply for a visa, his spokesman said on Friday.
Duterte immediately ordered the Bureau of Immigration to deny U.S Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy entry to the Philipines, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The two senators had introduced a provision in the U.S national budget prohibiting the entry in the United States of Philippine government officials involved in the alleged wrongful detention of opposition Senator Leila de Lima on illegal drug charges.
“Should a ban from entry into U.S territory be enforced against Philippine officials involved in – or by reason of Senator de Lima’s lawful imprisonment.
“ This government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory,’’ Panelo said.
He noted that Durbin and Leahy were imperious, uninformed and gullible for believing that de Lima was wrongfully imprisoned.
“The case of Senator de Lima is not one of persecution but of prosecution, he said.
“In fact, it is already being heard by our courts.’’
De Lima has been detained since February 2017 over allegations she received payoffs from jailed illegal drug lords when she was head of the Department of Justice.
She has denied the allegations, and accused the Duterte administration of political persecution.