The Philippines has banned two United States officials from visiting the country and will introduce tighter entry restrictions for US citizens should Washington enforce sanctions over the detention of a top government critic, the president's spokesman has said.Two U.S. senators Banned From Visiting Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte is also expected to impose restrictions on U.S. citizens entering the Philippines, requiring they get visas to enter for short-term visits.

The country is preparing to retaliate because of possible sanctions enforced by the U.S. over the detention of a government critic.

Senator Leila de Lima was charged with drug offenses in 2017 after leading an investigation into mass shootings under Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. She has been in jail for the past two years.

The U.S. Congress recently approved a 2020 budget containing a provision introduced by Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy against anyone involved in de Lima’s arrest.

“We will not sit idly if they continue to interfere with our processes as a sovereign state,” said the Philippine presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, according to Reuters.

De Lima is a prominent critic of the Duterte administration, calling for an international investigation against the country’s war on drugs.

Thousands have been killed under Duterte. According to Reuters, police say the people killed were drug dealers resisting arrest but activists say the killings are murders.

Duterte makes no secret of his disdain for the US and what he considers its hypocrisy and interference, though he admits that most Filipinos and his military have high regard for their country's former colonial ruler.

The US is the Philippines's biggest defence ally and its main source of Western influence. Millions of Filipinos have relatives who are US citizens.

On Wednesday, de Lima, a justice minister in a former administration, expressed what she described as overwhelming gratitude to the US Congress for its help. She has won numerous awards from human rights groups, who consider her a prisoner of conscience.

She has constantly spoken out against Duterte and been calling for an international investigation into his so-called war on drugs, in which thousands of people have been killed.

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