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