■ HU­MAN RIGHTS AD­VO­CATE BARRED FROM AT­TEND­ING CEBU CON­FER­ENCE, DE­PORTED

Palace spokesman says dis­al­low­ing of­fi­cial crit­i­cal of PH war vs. drugs is merely an ex­er­cise in sovereignty

Sun.Star Cebu - - TOP STORIES - /RUTH ABBEY GITA, SUNSTAR PHILIP­PINES

Ak­bayan con­demned “in the strong­est terms” on Sun­day the move to pre­vent an of­fi­cial of the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists (PES) from en­ter­ing Philip­pine ter­ri­tory the mo­ment he ar­rived in Cebu for a con­fer­ence.

Gi­a­como Filibeck, who is crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s anti-nar­cotics crack­down, was stopped at the im­mi­gra­tion counter and im­me­di­ately de­ported upon his ar­rival at the Mac­tan-Cebu In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Sun­day, for al­legedly par­tic­i­pat­ing in “il­le­gal po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

He was sup­posed to at­tend Ak­bayan’s 7th Congress at the Pro­vin­cial Capi­tol. Filibeck, the PES sec­re­tary-gen­eral, was part of the in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights mis­sion that vis­ited the coun­try in Oc­to­ber 2017 and was pho­tographed while hold­ing signs marked “Stop the Killings.” He had also called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the crack­down.

“Are we in a dic­ta­tor­ship? The de­por­ta­tion of Filibeck is a de­plorable act of si­lenc­ing strong voices for hu­man rights,” the party-list group said.

“Duterte de­tained and de­ported Filibeck be­cause he is scared of hu­man rights de­fend­ers. He is hid­ing some­thing about the killings in the Philip­pines. This is a clear sign that Duterte will block all ef­forts to bring jus­tice to Filipino vic­tims of the killings,” Ak­bayan added.

In a state­ment, PES pres­i­dent Sergei Stan­i­shev said: “The sin­is­ter mo­tive be­hind this ou­tra­geous act is clear: our po­lit­i­cal fam­ily is on the front line in the fight to de­fend hu­man rights in the Philip­pines.”

“As a united po­lit­i­cal fam­ily, we refuse to be si­lenced. We will con­tinue to ex­press our sol­i­dar­ity with the demo­cratic op­po­si­tion to Mr. Duterte’s in­creas­ingly au­thor­i­tar­ian rule in the Philip­pines,” the party of­fi­cial said. Re­lated story in Na­tion.

Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials on Sun­day, April 15, de­nied en­try to a Euro­pean politi­cian crit­i­cal of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s war on drugs, a move that Mala­cañang de­fended as an ex­er­cise of sovereignty.

A day af­ter the re­ported de­ten­tion and de­por­ta­tion of Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists (PES) deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gi­a­como Filibeck sur­faced, Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son Harry Roque Jr. said the Philip­pines, as a sovereign na­tion, has the ju­ris­dic­tion to ban any for­eign na­tion­als “if we do not want them in our ter­ri­tory.”

“There is no rule un­der in­ter­na­tional law that will com­pel us to ad­mit any­one whom we do not want to ad­mit in our ter­ri­tory. That’s the ex­er­cise of sovereignty,” Roque told Palace re­porters.

“We are not obliged to al­low any­one into our ter­ri­tory, if we do not want them in our ter­rito- ry. Un­for­tu­nately, the so­cial­ist leader was one of those (whom) we de­ter­mine as a per­son we don’t want to be in our ter­ri­tory,” he added.

Filibeck, who is crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s anti-nar­cotics crack­down, was re­port­edly stopped at the im­mi­gra­tion counter and im­me­di­ately de­ported upon his ar­rival at the Mac­tan-Cebu In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Sun­day, April 15, for al­legedly par­tic­i­pat­ing in “il­le­gal po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.”

The party of­fi­cial trav­eled to Cebu to at­tend the two-day Ak­bayan Party-list Congress. Ak­bayan is a sis­ter party of the PES, which is com­posed of so­cial­ist, so­cial demo­cratic, la­bor and demo­cratic par­ties from all over Eu­rope and Nor­way.

In a video mes­sage sent to Ak­bayan while wait­ing for his plane to depart from Cebu, Filibeck said “he could not be more proud” of the ac­cu­sa­tion of be­ing a Euro­pean so­cial demo­crat com­mit­ted to the cause of democ­racy and hu­man rights.

He said he was not wor­ried about him­self, but was con­cerned about the “con­di­tion in which your po­lit­i­cal fight is tak­ing place un­der this gov­ern­ment.”

“Let me tell you, this lit­tle in­ci­dent is only mak­ing us more com­mit­ted to sup­port you in your cause,” he added.

The PES, in a state­ment, protested “in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms the un­jus­ti­fied de­ten­tion and de­por­ta­tion.

AP FOTO

SHOW OF MIGHT. US Air­craft car­rier USS Theodore Roo­sevelt docks at the Manila Bay. The US held naval ex­er­cises at the West Philip­pine Sea.

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