WATCH | Duterte allies tell EU parliament not to dictate on PH in De Lima case, EJK issue
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(UPDATE 4 - 9:32 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines – Why are you intruding into our affairs?
President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies don’t like what the European Parliament did and they think that the 751-member body, representing the world’s second largest democratic electorate, has stepped beyond its boundaries.
In its March 15 resolution, the parliament called for the immediate release of Sen. Leila de Lima, expressed its rejection of the Philippine government’s move to re-instate the death penalty, and urged the European Commission to "to use all available instruments to persuade the Philippines to put an end to extrajudicial killings related to the anti-drug campaign.”
But the body’s calls did not sit well with Malacanang and at least one senior lawmaker.
On Friday, presidential legal counsel Salvador Panalo said the parliament “cannot dictate on the Philippine government on what to do with its constituents facing criminal charges nor can they interfere with the judicial processes of our country.”
“That is foreign interference. They should mind their own business,” added Panelo.
DFA: Disturbing allegations
In a separate development, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a statement saying it is important that the European Parliament exerts "all efforts" to secure more accurate information on resolutions, in order to avoid the impression of interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign non-EU countries.
"The Philippine Government asks the international community to refrain from influencing the outcome of a case that is rightly under the jurisdiction of Philippine local courts," part of the statement said.
"Allegations of state-sponsored extra-judicial killings are disturbing. The government is taking pains to investigate the veracity of these allegations of state-sponsored extra-judicial killings.
"This is being undertaken precisely to ensure that due process and the rule of law prevail even in situations of crises, such as the enormous drug problem that our society is facing.
"Public congressional hearings were convened to look into these allegations," DFA elaborated.
Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III agreed. He said the parliament must be told that the Philippines “is a democratic nation ruled by law” and that its “judicial processes are fully functioning.”
Sotto said the parliament’s action in “demanding” De Lima’s release “is a clear display of arrogance of power and a pure interference in our domestic affairs,” necessitating the filing of a note verbale of protest by the Philippine embassy in the European capital.
“Baka akala nila p’wede tayo basta apihin [Maybe they think they can just oppress us like that],” he added.
Meanwhile, De Lima on Friday said she was "deeply elated that the international community is closely monitoring the trumped-up charges" against her, "especially the European Parliament which has issued a 10-point motion in a joint resolution it adopted last Thursday."
The detained senator called on the Duterte administration to heed the 10-point motion "particularly in allowing the immediate conduct of an independent international investigation into unlawful drug-related killings as part of the Philippines’ commitments to international law."
"I pray that the aspate of violent extrajudicial killings would stop soon and that those who are responsible for them would finally be held accountable," she said.
PH-EU trade ties
Meanwhile, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the European Parliament’s call “should serve as a reminder that the international community is closely monitoring our political situation which in turn may affect our trade relations with the EU.”
He said billions of dollars worth of trade and investments coming into the Philippines would be at risk of being lost and that poverty and unemployment would worsen because of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
“We should be focused on creating an atmosphere conducive to economic growth and job creation but what we have instead is the atmosphere of violence, lawlessness, and vigilante killings,” said Pangilinan.
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