Detained Senator Leila de Lima has submitted to the United States government the list of Philippine officials allegedly responsible for her detention, and who will be recommended for a possible US travel ban.
“Yes. That is correct, De Lima’s chief media officer Ferdie Maglalang said when asked on the matter on Tuesday.
He made his statement even as Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra expressed hope the US State Department would exercise prudence in reviewing the list of people that De Lima considers were responsible for her imprisonment and recommended to be denied entry to the United States.
De Lima, who is in detention while facing trial for illegal drug cases, did not reveal the identities of those who would be banned from traveling to the US, but Guevarra urged the US State Department to be fair in evaluating her so-called persecutors.
“I am not interested to know who are in her list. I trust that the US State Department will do its own independent evaluation and exercise prudence and circumspection, Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
De Lima earlier this year said she was in the process of completing the list that she likened to popular Game of Thrones character Arya Stark’s list of names involved in her father’s death.
“An ‘Arya List’ so to speak, if you will,” De Lima said in a statement in January.
“Yes, I have their names stored in my mind all this time (not unlike the names Arya Stark used to recite like a litany, after her father was falsely branded and punished as a traitor by the power players in the Kingdom, who were acting out of fear of the truth he might reveal), even before this whole issue of the US visa ban cropped up. I’ve recently converted my mental list into a written formal list, and am now finalizing the same,” De Lima said.
She said the list would be complete with a summary and citation of references justifying their inclusion. It would only be recommendatory and not binding on the US government.
“The final determination as to who will be part of the official list as subjects of the US entry ban lies entirely on [the State Department]. It may or may not publish said list,” De Lima said.
In December, US President Donald Trump signed the 2020 US federal budget that included a provision banning the entry of Philippine government officials involved in De Lima’s detention.
The ban would apply to an official if US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo found “credible information” about his or her involvement in the “wrongful imprisonment” of De Lima, who was arrested in February 2017 on her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prisons during her stint as Justice secretary.