Palace to U.S. Senators siding with de Lima, Ressa: Mind your own business

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 8) — Malacañang on Monday slammed the five senators from the United States who filed a measure seeking to drop the charges against detained Philippine Senator Leila De Lima and journalist Maria Ressa.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said U.S. Senators Edward Markey (Massachusetts), Marco Rubio (Florida), Richard Durbin (Illinois), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) and Chris Coons (Delaware) should focus on their country's own problems instead of meddling in the Philippines' affairs.

"The five US senators who called for the release of Senator Leila de Lima and the dropping of charges against Rappler and Ms. Maria Ressa should mind their own business - their country has enough problems and they should focus on them," he said in a statement.

The U.S. senators denounced the government's efforts to arrest and detain "human rights defenders and political leaders who exercise their rights to freedom of expression" amid the ongoing war on drugs in the Philippines.

Panelo claimed the senators were blinded by false narratives, saying the cases of de Lima and Ressa have passed through administrative and judicial processes

The presidential spokesperson described the bipartisan resolution condemning alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines as an "unwelcome intrusion" into the country's legal process.

"The Republic of the Philippines is not under the dominion of the United States of America or any of its high-ranking officials. The US senators' resort to a reckless and unstudied political exercise only highlights their unfamiliarity with the domestic matters of our country as well as their disrespect to the clamor of the Filipino people for law and order," he said.

Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson also hit back at the U.S. senators, highlighting the Philippines has been out of the U.S. control for decades.

"More shame if we kowtow to those 5 overbearing US senators with all their arrogant display of colonialism towards an ally," he said in a series of tweets on Sunday.

He added a resolution from the Philippine Senate is appropriate to call out their U.S. counterparts.