MANILA — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Thursday confirmed that he has a US visa, and, given the chance, he is “interested to meet” with the United States senators who introduced a US entry ban on Filipino officials.
“Meron pa akong US visa pero hindi pa ako nakakapunta ng USA. Tsaka ko na i-check kung meron nang schedule going to USA (I still have a US visa but I have not yet gone to the USA. I will just check later if there is a schedule to the USA),” he said in a message to reporters.
“So far wala pa namang scheduled trip. Excited pa naman ako makapunta ng US. First time ko sakaling magpunta o matuloy ang US-Asean Summit, pero hindi pa naman sigurado (So far there is still no scheduled trip. I’m excited to go to the US. It will be my first time if ever we go the US-Asean Summit, but nothing is sure yet),” Go said.
Go was referring to the invitation of US President Donald Trump to President Rodrigo Duterte to attend a summit between the US and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Las Vegas, Nevada on March 4 this year.
President Duterte has yet to decide if he would accept the invitation.
But should the President relent, Go said he is interested in meeting US senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy who introduced a resolution urging Trump to impose Magnitsky sanctions against Philippine officials behind the detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes the US to impose sanctions – including denying of travel visas and the freezing and forfeiture of US assets – to foreigners proven to have committed human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.
Go said it is not President Duterte’s style to silence his critics, and the two American lawmakers should know all the facts first on de Lima’s case before trying to meddle with the country’s issues.
“Dapat alamin muna nila kung mayroon bang persecution na ginawa (They should learn first if there was persecution). It’s not persecution, not even a percent. He [Duterte] is not known for that. Hindi vindictive ang ating Pangulo (Our President is not a vindictive person),” he said.
“Mayroon talagang (There is a) prosecution that was upheld by the Supreme Court. Kaya sabi ko (So I said), you come here, you research more. ‘Wag kang maniniwala muna sa intrigues, sa mga chismis (Do not be taken in by intrigues and rumors). Not our style,” Go said.
De Lima is currently detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police for her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison drug trade when she was still secretary of the Department of Justice.
Go is not the only one who wanted to go to the US to clarify the issues raised by American lawmakers against the Duterte administration.
Earlier, Senator Ronald dela Rosa said also given the chance, he would be willing to clarify to US senators the issues on the war against illegal drugs and the alleged extra-judicial killings.
“I should let them know the real situation, the real numbers, the real happenings in the Philippines. Because these Democratic senators who ally themselves to our anti-government officials are being fed with wrong information,” dela Rosa said in an ambush interview Wednesday.
But unlike Go, he said he has no US visa as he received confirmation from the US embassy that his visa, which is supposed to expire on 2022, has been canceled. Jose Cielito Reganit /PNA – northboundasia.com