Duterte to talk to Trump if US OKs ban on PH officials behind De Lima detention

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he will talk to US President Donald Trump if the bill that seeks to ban officials behind the detention of Senator Leila de Lima from US territory passes.

“If they decide to report it out of the committee to the plenary for adoption and it is now ripe, it becomes a matter now between two states, then that is the time, the State Department or Trump and I, will have to talk,” Duterte told reporters Tuesday night before leaving for Russia for a five-day visit.

Unlike officials of his administration and his allies, Duterte withheld comment about the proposal initiated by US Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

Duterte said the measure is still “unripe” and is not yet worth commenting on.

Earlier during his speech, however, the President said “some idiots in some parts of the world” have seemed to have forgotten about the principle of non-interference.

Similarities have been drawn between Duterte and Trump, and the two presidents have expressed fondness for each other.

The proposal to ban some Philippine officials from the US is inserted into the 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which has been approved by the US Senate Appropriations committee. The bill is now pending before the whole chamber.

The measure has been met with disapproval by Malacañang and some lawmakers, saying this is an affront to Philippine sovereignty.

However, Vice President Leni Robredo said the US has the right to bar Philippine officials behind the opposition senator’s imprisonment.

A staunch critic of Duterte's anti-drug war, De Lima has been detained since 2017 for allegedly abetting illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary during her term as Justice Secretary under the previous administration. She has maintained her innocence and accused the government of fabricating the cases against her.

Aside from Philippine officials behind her detention, the bill also seeks to ban Egyptian officials who are involved in the imprisonment of Mustafa Kassem, an American citizen “whose health is failing.”