Sen. Ed Markey says he’s been banned from the Philippines.
In a statement Thursday, the Massachusetts senator said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration had confirmed he was barred from entering the country due to his condemnations of the authoritarian leader’s crackdown on human rights.
As the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s East Asia subcommittee, Markey has consistently criticized Duterte for his ruthless anti-drug campaign — in which police have summarily killed thousands of people suspected of dealing or using drugs — and for the arrests of local critics, including Philippine Sen. Leila de Lima and journalist Maria Ressa.
The Malden Democrat is the third U.S. senator to be barred from the Philippines. Last week, Duterte’s administration announced a travel ban against Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy in retaliation for the two Democrats’ efforts to add a provision into the 2020 budget bill blocking anyone involved with de Lima’s imprisonment from entering into the United States.
“President Duterte is sorely mistaken if he thinks he can silence my voice and that of my colleagues,” Markey said in response.
“He has already failed to silence Senator de Lima, Maria Ressa, and others in his country who have spoken truth to power,” the senator added. “I stand with the people of the Philippines and with my state’s vibrant Filipino-American community in fighting for the highest democratic ideals and against the strongman tactics of the Duterte government.”
In April, Markey co-introduced a bipartisan Senate resolution calling for the release of de Lima, who has been imprisoned since 2017 on drug trafficking charges, after she led an investigation into the Duterte government’s extrajudicial killings. Markey said in October that de Lima was the target of “partisan persecution.” He has also voiced concern about President Donald Trump’s past praise of Duterte.
“The Philippines is a close ally,” Markey said in April, “but this bipartisan resolution makes it clear that the U.S. Congress seeks an immediate improvement in the government’s behavior and the end of efforts to weaponize the rule of law against brave individuals like Senator Leila de Lima and Maria Ressa.”