August 31, 2018
QUEZON CITY – “President Duterte is obviously easily ticked-off by non-Filipino human rights defenders and activists expressing solidarity and grave concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines. His regime’s intolerance and harassment of these foreigners, while working in concert with the US, China and other governments in the plunder of the country’s resources and in pursuing anti-people policies, betray the hollowness of his rhetoric on national sovereignty and independent foreign policy,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.
Last August 30, Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Anne Fox was informed of the decision of the Phil. Bureau of Immigration (BI) denying her appeal regarding her deportation case. BI considered Sr. Fox as an “undesirable alien” for allegedly participating in political activities in the Philippines. Sr. Fox is set to file her appeal regarding the said decision before the Department of Justice next week.
Prior to Sr. Fox, three Methodist missionaries namely Tawanda Chandiwana of Zimbabwe, Adam Thomas Shaw of USA and Miracle Osman of Malawi were ordered deported by the BI for their participation in an international fact finding mission in Mindanao.
Last August 7, lawyer and human rights defender Prof. Gil Boehringer, who has dual citizenship in the US and Australia, was barred from entering the country. Boehringer was included in the blacklist order along with several other foreign human rights defenders and activists for their alleged participation in the November 2015 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Boehringer denied his participation in the said rally.
The list, which was made public by media, also included former US Member of House of Representatives Cynthia McKinney, Palestinian freedom fighter Leila Khaled, Australian human rights activist Peter Murphy who serves as the Chairperson of the Global Council of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, Guatemalan rights activist Samuel Villatoro, among many others.
“These unintelligent and sloppy ‘intelligence reports’ by the Bureau of Immigration has repeatedly been used to justify the exclusion of non-Filipinos from the country because according to the bureau, they are “threats to public safety and order.” These non-Filipino rights defenders have been linked to so-called ‘communist-terrorist’ groups. These accusations are unfounded, without any bases, malicious and dangerous,” added Palabay.
The BI argued that these foreigners were involved in political activities in violation of immigration laws particularly the Immigration Operations Order SBM-2015-025 prohibiting foreigners from participating in rallies in the Philippines.
“Sr. Fox’s deportation case will set a dangerous precedent if we allow the Duterte government to continue harassing foreigners doing missionary and human rights work in the country by simply deporting and blacklisting them. Contrary to the BI's claims, the biggest threat to public order and safety in the country is, in fact, President Duterte himself, along with his fascist minions. They are the purveyors of State policies that result to unabated human rights violations, including Duterte's counter-insurgency campaign, martial law in Mindanao, and the war on drugs,” ended Palabay.