EU party official barred from entering Cebu

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol April 16,2018

An official of a European Union (EU) political party who earlier criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs was barred from entering Cebu on Sunday.

Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists, was held by immigration officers when he arrived at the Mactan Cebu International Airport at around 3 p.m. and was immediately deported by plane.

Filibeck, a native of Rome in Italy, was told he had been blacklisted for participating in illegal political activities.

He was supposed to attend and speak at the party congress of Akbayan at Cityscape Hotel in Mandaue City, Cebu from April 16 to 19, 2018, said Justine Balane, coordinator of Akbayan Youth.

“He (Filibeck) was supposed to be with us for the event. Unfortunately, he was held at the airport and was deported. He was escorted to the Clark Airport (in Pampanga) before he returned to Italy,” Balane told Cebu Daily News.

In a text message to TV5, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said there was basis to prohibit Filibeck from entering the Philippines.

“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 explained.

Cebu Daily News tried to reach Filibeck through his Facebook account but he has not responded yet.

Balane said Filibeck was part of the international human rights mission who visited communities affected by drug-related killings in October 2017, and openly denounced President Duterte’s relentless war on drugs.

In a report, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has estimated that over 12,000 Filipinos had been killed since the administration’s drug war was launched on July 1, 2016.

The Philippines, however, said only 3,987 people had been killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016, to Jan. 17, 2018, while 11 percent, or 2,235, of the total 19,560 murders under police investigation were drug-related.

Akbayan, in a statement, denounced the move of the Philippine government to ban Filibeck from entering the country.

“Are we in a dictatorship? The deportation of Filibeck is a deplorable act of silencing the strong voices for human rights. The ridiculous charge of ‘illegal political activities’ is Duterte’s way of saying he wants to criminalize criticisms,” the political party said.

Akbayan said President Duterte, who is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the spate of killings, is scared of the global condemnation against his policy to kill.

“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,” the group added.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said he’s planning to file a resolution at the House of Representatives in order for lawmakers to look into the incident involving Filibeck.

“Is deportation our new foreign policy? This unfortunate incident only shows how paranoid this government is in keeping the rest of the world blind from the damage President Duterte has done to our country. Poor Filipinos get killed. Local dissenters get harassed. Now, foreign critics get deported,” he said in a statement sent to Cebu Daily News.

“Indeed, President Duterte leaves no room for opposition and no flights delayed for international human rights advocates. I will file a House resolution to look into this shameful incident,” he added.

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