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Third US senator banned from the Philippines over support of top government critic

Third US senator banned from the Philippines over support of top government critic

Officials in the Philippines confirmed Thursday that Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Democrats push expansion of offshore wind, block offshore drilling with ocean energy bill | Poll: Two-thirds of voters support Biden climate plan | Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Biden plan lags Green New Deal in fighting emissions from homes Senate Republicans offer constitutional amendment to block Supreme Court packing MORE (D-Mass.) has been banned from entering the country, the third U.S. senator to be banned over support for a critic of the country’s government, CNN Philippines reported.

Salvador Panelo, a spokesperson for President Rodrigo Duterte, told reporters at a Thursday press briefing that Markey will be blocked from entering the country. He cited the senator’s support for a resolution in the 2020 budget from Sens. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Pelosi, Mnuchin push stimulus talks forward, McConnell applies brakes Schumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin signals he isn't interested in chairing Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Ill.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySchumer says he had 'serious talk' with Feinstein, declines to comment on Judiciary role Durbin signals he isn't interested in chairing Judiciary Committee Democrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein MORE (D-Vt.) that sought to deny any Philippine official involved in the jailing of Sen. Leila de Lima from entering the U.S. 

Markey hit back after the announcement Thursday, tweeting “President Duterte is sorely mistaken if he thinks he can silence my voice. He has already failed to silence @SenLeiladeLima and others who have spoken truth to power. I stand with the people of the Philippines in fighting against his strongman tactics.”

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De Lima was charged with drug offenses in 2017 after leading an investigation into mass killings amid Duterte’s anti-drug attacks. 

Duterte ordered the country’s Bureau of Immigration to immediately refuse entry to Durbin and Leahy last week. Panelo told reporters at the time that “we will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state.”

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Markey has been a vocal supporter of de Lima. He shared on Twitter last year “Sen. de Lima has been the target of very troubling partisan persecution. In an attempt to intimidate and silence voices critical of the government, de Lima has been jailed and not given the opportunity to defend herself. The Duterte administration should release her immediately.”

In November, he tweeted “A sad, shocking milestone: today marks 1,000 days in jail for Senator Leila de Lima – a sitting senator in the Philippines who dared to shine a light on Duterte's abuses. I introduced S.Res.142 because the government must release @SenLeiladeLima & halt its persecution of critics.” 

American citizens can currently enter the Philippines without a visa for up to 30 days, although the government threatened to tighten requirements last week amid the tensions with Leahy and Durbin.