Philippines rejects European Parliament's call on senator


Malacañang joined Filipino senators in lambasting the European Parliament for its resolution calling for the release of Senator Leila De Lima and dropping of drug charges against her.

In another handwritten letter released by her Senate staff, De Lima said the European Parliament's joint resolution is proof that other countries do care what is happening to the Philippines.

His call was echoed by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, who said the European Parliament "should know its place in the world".

Presidential chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo on Friday assailed the European Parliament for intruding in Philippine state affairs and called on the assembly to mind its own business. "It's not at all an interference with our country's internal affairs, but rather an aggregate assertion of the universal values of truth, justice and humanity".

Duterte had temporarily suspended the war on drugs toward the end of January to weed out police corruption, after the first phase of the campaign left 7,000 dead in seven months, including more than 2,500, who were killed by the police.

In a separate statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) indicated that European Union lawmakers relied on inaccurate information, and said the resolution "cast aspersion on Philippine legal processes, its judicial system and the guarantees enshrined in the Constitution to uphold and protect the rights of all individuals". "That is foreign interference".

"It is important that the elected members exert 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", it added. "So I think they ought to respect that", Abella said.

Abella reiterated that De Lima's arrest strictly followed legal procedures and was not political in nature. "The Muntinlupa Regional Tria Court - which is both independent and competent - then found probable cause which led to the issuance of a warrant for the incumbent senator's arrest", said the spokesman.

"Please mind your own business and don't ever tell the Philippine Senate on who should chair any of its committees", Pimentel added.

Duterte himself has repeatedly scored global bodies and other world leaders for criticizing his drug war.

Following the meeting held this week by the European Parliament to discuss their planned motion to immediately free detained Senator Leila de Lima, the organization has already pushed through with their appeal to the Philippine government.

Germany's Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid Barbel Kofler, in a statement posted on her government's website, she was "deeply worried" about the House of Representatives' passage of the bill restoring capital punishment, a development she called "highly regrettable".

Duterte expanded the crackdown nationwide after becoming president last June, and de Lima continued to criticize him after winning a Senate seat past year.

"I hope that the worldwide community will continue to extend its solidarity to all democracy-loving Filipinos", she added.

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