EU party of­fi­cial barred

Filibeck crit­i­cal of Duterte

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MANILA, Philip­pines, April 16, (AFP): The Philip­pines has barred en­try to an EU party of­fi­cial crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s bru­tal drugs crack­down, in a move de­nounced by crit­ics Mon­day as a gag on dis­sent.

Ital­ian Gi­a­como Filibeck was de­tained by bor­der po­lice upon his ar­rival at Cebu air­port Sun­day and de­ported for en­gag­ing in “par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity”, Philip­pine im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties and his party said.

Filibeck, the deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Party of Euro­pean So­cial­ists, flew to the Philip­pines at the in­vi­ta­tion of op­po­si­tion party Ak­bayan to at­tend a congress.

He had been part of a del­e­ga­tion of Euro­pean politi­cians who con­ducted an Oc­to­ber 2017 fact-find­ing mis­sion in the Philip­pines which de­nounced the “ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings” of thou­sands of peo­ple in Duterte’s anti-drug crack­down.

“This is a gag or­der to all and sundry that you can­not look into the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines,” Ak­bayan con­gress­man Tom Vil­larin told AFP.

“Ac­tions of the Duterte gov­ern­ment ... re­ally show that de­gree of im­punity has risen to the level of a dic­ta­tor­ship,” he added.

Duterte has launched an un­prece­dented cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs since win­ning elec­tions in mid-2016.

Po­lice say they have killed 4,100 drug sus­pects as part of the cam­paign, while rights groups claim the toll is around three times the of­fi­cial fig­ure.

The Philip­pine bureau of im­mi­gra­tion said Filibeck had vi­o­lated con­di­tions of his stay as a tourist.

“Mr Filibeck has been black­listed by the (im­mi­gra­tion bureau) for vi­o­la­tion of our im­mi­gra­tion laws which pro­hibit aliens stay­ing in our coun­try from en­gag­ing in po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties,” Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Me­nardo Gue­varra told AFP.

Duterte’s spokesman de­scribed the move as an “ex­er­cise of sovereignty”.

“The so­cial­ist leader was one of those that we de­ter­mined as a per­son that we don’t want to be in our ter­ri­tory,” pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque told re­porters.

Manila and the Euro­pean Union have clashed over the drugs crack­down, with Brus­sels say­ing it was a mat­ter of “se­ri­ous con­cern”, while Duterte has re­jected crit­i­cism from the “stupid or­gan­i­sa­tion” and an­grily turned down an in­vi­ta­tion to an Asi­aEurope sum­mit.

Filibeck’s party de­nounced his de­por­ta­tion, adding it had in­formed EU diplo­matic chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini of the in­ci­dent.

“It is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able that a PES po­lit­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tive ... should be treated as a crim­i­nal on the or­ders of the gov­ern­ment,” party pres­i­dent Sergei Stan­i­shev said in a state­ment on its web­site.

“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.”

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