The Philippines has barred two US senators from the country and threatened to impose greater restrictions on all visiting Americans over new sanctions. The 2020 spending bill approved by Congress and President Trump last week includes a provision denying entry to the US for anyone involved in the detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, Reuters reports. She led an investigation into the mass killings in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. The government has countered the US law by saying it will refuse entry to Sens. Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy, who were behind the measure, calling them "imperious, uninformed, and gullible," per the Hill. If the US law is enforced, President Rodrigo Duterte said Americans will have to get a visa to visit. At the moment, Americans can enter the Philippines without a visa and stay for as long as 30 days.
"We will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state," a spokesman for Duterte said. Leahy's office said he has no plans to visit the Philippines soon and doesn't know of anyone arriving from the Philippines who would be subject to the new law. "This is about the right of Filipino citizens — and people everywhere — to freely express their opinions," a Leahy spokesman said, per CBS, "including opinions that may be critical of government policies that involve the use of excessive force and the denial of due process." Thousands of people have been killed in the Philippines' war on drugs, with police saying they were drug dealers resisting arrests and opponents saying many of the deaths were murder. (Read more Philippines stories.)