‘For­eign­ers should fol­low the law’

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By PAOLO ROMERO and CHRISTINA MEN­DEZ

For­eign­ers – re­gard­less of their race, be­liefs or po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tions – should fol­low the coun­try’s laws, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials and se­na­tors said yes­ter­day as they de­fended the overnight de­ten­tion of a 71-year-old Aus­tralian Catholic mis­sion­ary and the de­por­ta­tion of an Ital­ian ac­tivist.

“We shall im­ple­ment our im­mi­gra­tion laws fairly and

uni­formly, with­out re­gard to color, race or creed. Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia’s case has noth­ing to do with her be­ing a nun, nor with her per­sonal ad­vo­ca­cies,” Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra said. “But like any other for­eigner stay­ing in our coun­try, she has to obey and com­ply with our laws.”

He was re­fer­ring to Pa­tri­cia Anne Fox, the su­pe­rior of the Notre Dame de Sion in the Philip­pines, a con­gre­ga­tion of Catholic nuns.

Gue­varra also said Ital­ian ac­tivist Gi­a­como Filibeck was hold­ing a tourist visa and was not al­lowed to en­gage in “par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.”

“It is un­law­ful for aliens stay­ing in our coun­try to en­gage in par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, and the gov­ern­ment has the right to refuse en­try to those who have com­mit­ted these il­le­gal acts in the past,” Gue­varra said.

Filibeck, an of­fi­cial of the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists, was a guest of Ak­bayan party-list in its congress in Cebu City.

At Mala­cañang, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque Jr. cau­tioned for­eign­ers in the coun­try against par­tic­i­pat­ing in par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties as he jus­ti­fied the BI’s hold­ing Fox for ques­tion­ing for pos­si­ble vi­o­la­tion of her stay in the coun­try.

“In all coun­tries of the world, for­eign­ers are ad­mit­ted sub­ject to com­pli­ance with min­i­mal con­di­tions. One con­di­tion that we im­posed on all for­eign­ers is that they de­sist from par­tic­i­pat­ing in any form of po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties,” Roque said.

He said the im­mi­gra­tion of­fice got wind of Fox’s in- volve­ment in po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to re­view her mis­sion­ary visa.

“This is not an ar­rest. This is an or­der, an in­ves­ti­ga­tion whether or not to de­port Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia Fox,” the spokesman said.

He was in the mid­dle of a press brief­ing when in­formed that Fox was or­dered re­leased.

“These ar­rests are not gov­erned by nor­mal rights of an ac­cused in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings be­cause this is for the pur­pose and in prepara­tory for de­por­ta­tion,” he said.

Filibeck, mean­while, was barred from en­ter­ing at the Mac­tan-Cebu In­ter­na­tional Air­port over the week­end.

Sen­ate Pres­i­dent Aquilino Pi­mentel III said just like in many other coun­tries, the Philip­pines has a law that bars for­eign­ers from med­dling in the coun­try’s in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal af­fairs.

“If we want Filipinos to fol­low our laws then we should show our own peo­ple that for­eign­ers are not above our laws,” Pi­mentel said.

“These for­eign­ers who come here should not feel that they are su­pe­rior to us and hence above our laws,” he said.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Leader Vi­cente Sotto III de­scribed Filibeck as an “un­de­sir­able alien who cre­ates trou­ble in the Philip­pines.”

Sen. Gre­go­rio Honasan said while there are uni­ver­sal hu­man rights, “there are also laws gov­ern­ing the priv­i­leges of cit­i­zens in ev­ery coun­try that should not in­fringe on the abil­ity of gov­ern­ment to pro­tect life, lib­erty and prop­erty.”

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