By Hannah Torregoza
Senators on Thursday rejected a United States Senate panel resolution urging the Philippine government to release detained Senator Leila de Lima, and reminded American authorities that the country is no longer their colony.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III stressed the need for U.S. lawmakers to respect the country’s judicial processes.
“We are a sovereign nation. We have our own judicial processes. What will they say if we pass a resolution asking the U.S. to put in jail all abortionists in their country, considering abortion is illegal in ours?” Sotto wrote in a statement.
“Criminal laws are territorial and are different in every country. Sovereign states have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide the violation of their own laws. We are not a colony anymore,” the Senate leader wrote.
It was U.S. Senator Ed Markey, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, who led the filing of Senate Resolution No. 142 to demonstrates their “broad support for accountability” in De Lima’s case.
De Lima has been detained for almost three years at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center over allegations she was involved in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary.
She has since repeatedly denied the accusations, saying the cases against her were fabricated due to the fact she is a staunch critic of the Duterte administration.
In a statement, De Lima thanked the U.S. Senate panel for the filing the resolution.
“I’ve always believed that standing strong for one’s convictions and fighting always for what is true and just, for human rights, and humanity have many friends around the globe,” she wrote.
For her part, Sen. Imee Marcos echoed Sotto’s comments and reiterated the country’s independence from American colonial rule and the need for the U.S. to respect Philippine laws.
“Sa palagay ko talagang garapal na pakikialam ‘yun. Kaya tigilan na nila [ang pakikialam]. Hindi na tayo ‘little brown brother’ (I think that is outright audacious for them to interfere with our affairs. They should stop. We are no longer their ‘little brown brother’),” said Marcos, daughter of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Little brown brother” was coined by William Howard Taft, first American governor-general of the Philippines, to refer to Filipinos during the time of the American colonial period. The term is now considered racist.
“Hindi na tayo colony ng America kaya dapat konting respeto rin. Galing naman nila, mas marunong pa sila sa Pilipino tungkol sa Pilipinas (We are no longer an American colony, so they should respect us. They believe they know more than Filipinos when it comes to Philippine affairs),” she said.
“Huwag naman ganun. Konting respeto naman. Panghihimasok yun. 1910 pa rin ba tayo? Hindi, mali na yan (They should give us some respect. They are interfering. Are we still in 1910? That’s wrong),” Marcos said.