The appropriations committee of the United States Senate has approved an amendment that seeks to ban officials of the Duterte administration behind the detention of Filipina senator Leila de Lima on drug charges.

The approval was announced on Twitter by Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois.

Durbin said he pushed the amendment along with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a fellow Democrat.

“Good to see the Senate Appropriations Committee pass my amendment with @SenatorLeahy today to prohibit entry to any Philippine Government Officials involved in the politically motivated imprisonment of Filipina Senator Leila de Lima in 2017. We must #FreeLeilaNow,” Durbin tweeted.

De Lima faces drug trafficking charges in two Muntinlupa courts, on the basis testimonies by convicted drug lords.

De Lima claims these charges were trumped up to silence her criticism of the bloody drug war of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo condemned the US Senate committee vote.

“The Palace considers such undertaking as a brazen attempt to intrude into our country’s domestic legal processes given that the subject cases against the detained senator are presently being heard by our local courts,” he said in a statement.

“It seeks to place pressure upon our independent institutions thereby effectively interfering with our nation’s sovereignty. It is an insult to the competence and capacity of our duly constituted authorities as such act makes it appear that this US Senate panel has the monopoly of what is right and just,” he added.

Panelo said de Lima was no prisoner of conscience. “The fact that she belongs to the political opposition is irrelevant to her charges of illegal drug-related transgressions which she allegedly committed while she was Justice Secretary. The quantum of evidence of probable cause was met, as determined by an independent and competent judge, which caused the issuance of a warrant for her arrest,” he said.

The support for de Lima in the US Senate has been bipartisan. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on Sept. 21 tweeted: “Philippine Senator Leila de Lima, a critic of extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs,” has spent the last two years in prison on bogus charges. I call on the Philippine government to unconditionally release her #FreeLeilaNow #ExpressionNOTOppression.”

Senators Durbin, Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Marco Rubio of Florida, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Christopher Coons of Delaware had described de Lima in a resolution as “a prisoner of conscience,” “detained solely on account of her political views and the legitimate exercise of her freedom of expression.” (