US travel ban on Cabinet members does not include subordinates – Guevarra

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday disclosed that President Duterte’s order barring Cabinet members from traveling to the United States does not include subordinate officials.

“I believe, however, that the President’s order applies only to the Cabinet secretaries, as the latter are symbolically his alter egos, but not to other subordinate department officials who may have important official business to carry on in the US, such as attending UN conferences.”

“But even then, the policy will most likely be to limit the travel of these subordinate executive officials to the most important, urgent, and intransferrable official events or transactions,” Guevarra said in a message to reporters.

Just the other day, Mr. Duterte prohibited Cabinet members to travel to US after he recently ordered the cancellation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries.

“I will not allow any Cabinet member to go there at this time. No Cabinet member should be allowed to go to the United States,” Duterte was qouted as saying.

Duterte’s ‘threat’ to terminate VFA stemmed from the cancelation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa’s United States visa.

Dela Rosa, a former chief of the Philippine National Police before he joined the Senate, is a staunch ally of the President.

Dela Rosa last week disclosed that his U.S. visa had been canceled and was told he can re-apply to secure a visa again.

Recently, US President Donald Trump has signed into law the US 2020 budget that included a provision banning jailers of Senator Leila de Lima from setting foot on American soil

A provision on “Prohibition on Entry” bared that the US Secretary of State “shall apply subsection (c) to foreign government officials about whom the Secretary has credible information have been involved in the wrongful imprisonment of… de Lima who was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.”

Likewise, the provision, an amendment in the 2020 State and foreign operations appropriations bill, banned government officials from Egypt, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia over the “wrongful detention” of American citizens or staff of a US diplomatic mission.

US Senators Richard Durbin (Illinois) and Patrick Leahy (Vermont) sought the amendment on the 2020 state and foreign operations appropriations bill.

De Lima, who is now detained at the PNP Custodial Center on charges of illegal drugs, earlier identified Filipino officials allegedly involved in her wrongful incarceration.

She identified some of her jailers as
President Duterte, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, online bloggers Mocha Uson, Sass Rogando Sasot, and RJ Nieto.

De Lima also named the following former and incumbent officials: former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Solicitor General Jose Calida, Public Attorney Office Chief Persida Acosta, Sandra Cam, Dante Jimenez, and Congressmen Rey Umali and Rudy Fariñas.

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