Nalzaro: US interferes in our domestic affairs

Bobby Nalzaro

WHY is it that the United States of America (USA) is interfering in the domestic affairs of our country by insisting that opposition Sen. Leila de Lima is a victim of “political persecution” by the Duterte administration and condemning the extrajudicial killings (EJK) in connection with the administration’s war on drugs.

With a US Senate committee passing a resolution invoking the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Act, Philippine officials face the prospect of being denied visas and having their assets there frozen. US senators have set in motion a process of sanctioning Philippine officials linked to the detention of de Lima and alleged extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.

The US Foreign Relations Committee passed a resolution condemning de Lima’s imprisonment and calling out the Philippine Government for its “role in the state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings by police and other armed individuals as part of the war on drugs.”

The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act not only focuses on human rights violations but also on press freedom. The law is an expansion of the Magnitsky Act signed in 2012 by former US President Barack Obama.

The law is named after Russian lawyer and auditor Sergie Magnitsky who uncovered $230 million in massive tax fraud, which implicated Russian officials. He was jailed in 2008 and later died in 2009 days before his supposed release after he had been beaten and denied medical treatment while in custody.

Initially, the law mandated the US State and Treasury Department to impose restrictions and freeze the assets of Russian officials responsible for serious human rights violations. Under the expanded version, the law includes now other countries with massive human rights violations on record, including the Philippine, especially on de Lima’s case and the massive EKJ.

As a “resbak” to that US action, President Rodrigo Duterte plans to require US citizens to acquire visas first if they come here. With this recent controversy, will it affect US-Philippines relation? Well, the US-Philippines relation has long been in existence for several decades.

There were controversies before like the pulling out of the US military bases in country and recent verbal tussle between US officials and President Duterte and yet this relationship that binds the two countries is still strong.

De Lima is not a victim of political persecution, but rather she is being prosecuted on drug charges. There are evidences and testimonies that linked her to the drug syndicate when she was the secretary of the Department of Justice that also runs the National Bilibid Prison where convicted big-time drug lords are detained. In fact, no less than the Supreme Court affirmed that the detention of De Lima is legal. It followed the country’s judicial process. So why is the US interfering in this aspect? We have our own laws and legal procedures to follow.

As to the EJK, most of those killed have links to the illegal drug trade. If there were innocent victims, these were only minimal and considered as “collateral damage.” But those cases were already investigated and the culprits were charged.

If there is a number one violator of human rights, it is the US. Their invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan where thousands of innocent people, including children, were killed were already human rights violations.

Now, they are shouting the human rights of one person has been violated? What is so special with de Lima?