U.S. now has De Lima’s recommended list for travel bans, sanctions

Lian Buan
U.S. now has De Lima’s recommended list for travel bans, sanctions
(UPDATED) The Australian Parliament also reaches out to De Lima as the country works on its own version of the Magnitsky Act

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The United States government now has the list of alleged persecutors that jailed Senator Leila de Lima is recommending for travel bans and other sanctions.

De Lima confirmed through a letter-reply to Rappler on Tuesday, February 25, that she had submitted her list to the US government around the second week of January. The list was submitted through the US State Department.

De Lima refused to name the people on her list, just that “for each and every name, I had to justify.”

US President Donald Trump approved through their 2020 budget the imposition of travel bans on people involved in De Lima’s jailing.

The US Senate also passed the resolution seeking other sanctions on Philippine officials who were not only involved in De Lima’s jailing, but also those who enabled human rights violations in President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

De Lima earlier noted that her list would be purely recommendatory.

Trump would have to decide whom he would impose sanctions on, and what kind of sanctions. Trump has 120 days or 4 months from the start of the year to decide, which would be around April.

De Lima has been detained for 3 years now over 3 counts of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade, charges that retired senior associate justice Antonio Carpio called “one of the grossest injustices” for having no physical evidence of drugs.

Magnitsky Act

The travel bans and sanctions are keeping up with the Global Magnitsky Act, which empowers foreign countries to impose certain levels of penalties on human rights violators even if they are outside the country’s jurisdiction. It is seen to give clout and teeth to the international community in fighting global injustice.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa is the first official and named Philippine leader to receive a sanction after the US canceled his visa.

De Lima’s early list included President Rodrigo Duterte himself, former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Public Attorney Office chief Persida Acosta, among others, but the senator said “there may be other names still unknown or undiscovered at this point.”

We have asked several times whether Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra would be on her updated list – as he wasn’t on the old list – but De Lima refuses to answer the question.

Still, De Lima has called Guevara as the one “responsible for the continuation of injustice that is my incarceration based on fabricated charges.”

On Tuesday, February 25, Guevarra said he was “not interested to know who are in her list.”

“I trust that the US State Department will exercise its own independent evaluation and exercise prudence and circumspection,” Guevarra told reporters.

Australia reaches out

De Lima’s chief of staff Fhillip Sawali also told Rappler that the Australian Parliament had reached out to the senator so she could give her insights and experience as a victim of persecution.

Sawali said the request was just for De Lima to share her thoughts and opinions and that the talks have not reached the stage yet where Australia is actually studying imposing sanctions on Philippine officials.

Australia is among the other countries working on having their own Magnitsky Act, named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered $230 million in massive tax fraud which implicated Russian officials.

Magnitsky was jailed in 2008 and later died in 2009. The US passed the Magnitsky Act n 2012, empowering the government to impose sanctions on Russian officials deemed responsible for human rights violations. – Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.