Malacañang on Wednesday said the government would continue to honor the sovereignty of the US as President Donald Trump on Monday (PH time) signed a Covid-19 relief package that included a measure barring the entry of foreign government officials who oppress journalists.

The explanatory statement for the $2.3 trillion US spending bill specified the case of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and El Faro in El Salvador.

“The Secretary of State shall apply subsection (c) to foreign government
officials involved in threatening, wrongfully imprisoning, or otherwise depriving of liberty independent journalists who speak out or publish about official corruption or other abuses, including Maria Ressa in the Philippines and El Faro in El Salvador,” it read.

In a press statement on Dec. 10, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo explained that “Section 7031(c) provides that in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in a gross violation of human rights or significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are to be designated publicly or privately and are ineligible for entry into the United States.”

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said nations must “learn to respect each other’s domestic policies.”

“We recognize the democratic process of a sovereign state, such as the United States, which according to reports, recently enacted a congressional measure which bans foreign government officials allegedly ‘threatening, wrongfully imprisoning, or otherwise depriving of liberty of independent journalists,'” he said.

“As a fellow sovereign state, we respect the sovereignty, independence and equality of the United States. Consistent with this position, we have our own independent institutions and domestic laws that must be enforced and applied to all,” he added.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, Ressa has been slapped with nine criminal charges.

In a tweet, Ressa said she was thankful for the new US legislation.

“Hope this gives some relief to journalists under attack globally,” she wrote. John Ezekiel J. Hirro