US senator banned by Duterte meets PBBM

A United States congressman banned by former President Duterte for showing support to detained former Senator Leila de Lima is leading the delegation here in Manila, the US Embassy in Manila has confirmed.

Sen. Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, arrived in Manila today together with Representative John Garamendi (D-CA), Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Representative Don Beyer (D-VA), and Representative Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), coming at the heels of another controversial visit from Taiwan.

US Embassy Press Attaché, Kanishka Gangopadhyay said the US delegation met with President Marcos and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla Thursday.

“I can confirm that Senator Markey (Massachusetts) is leading a congressional delegation in Manila. The delegation met with Secretary of Justice Remulia and President Marcos today, and is meeting with legislators from the Philippine Congress this evening. The delegation’s meetings will continue tomorrow.” Gangopadhyay said in a message to Business Mirror.

Markey who sits as chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations East Asia and Pacific Subcommittee had earlier supported the bill in banning Philippine officials linked to the detention of Senator De Lima. Irked by the alleged interference to Philippine politics, the Duterte administration retaliated by imposing a travel ban on Markey to the Philippines as well as on two other senators who sponsored the bill — Sent. Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy.

Markey was also a vocal critic of Duterte for suppressing press freedom, particularly on the case of Rappler and its publisher Maria Ressa.

It is not known yet if Markey and his delegation will meet De Lima in jail. When pressed for comment, the US Embassy spokesman repeated, “The delegation’s meetings will continue tomorrow.”

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