Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The government of the Philippines is barring entry for two U.S. senators and may soon require that all American visitors obtain visas, a spokesman for President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday.
Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois are prohibited from entering the Philippines, as a response to the U.S. Congress' passing this month of a large budget bill.
A provision in the bill prohibits U.S. entry for persons involved in the jailing of Philippines Sen. Leila de Lima, a prominent critic of Duterte's war on drugs.
"The Philippines is immediately ordering the Bureau of Immigration to deny [Leahy and Durbin], the imperious, uninformed and gullible American legislators who introduced the subject provision," Panelo said.
De Lima has been in jail since 2017 on drug charges. She and other critics, including Leahy and Durbin, argue her arrest was politically motivated and done to please Duterte.
The government in Manila is also considering a change that would require short-term American visitors to obtain a visa, if the United States follows through on the Leahy-Durbin amendment. Currently, American travelers who spend 30 or fewer days in the Philippines don't need the legal documentation.
"Should a ban from entry into U.S. territory be enforced against Philippine officials involved in -- or by reason of -- Senator de Lima's lawful imprisonment, this government will require all Americans intending to come to the Philippines to apply and secure a visa before they can enter Philippine territory," Panelo said.