‘No partisan politics for foreigners’

By Ador Vincent S. Mayol and Rosalie O. Abatayo |April 16,2018 - 09:16 PM

A photo from partylist group Akbayan shows Giacomo Filibeck of the Party of European Socialists being held by personnel of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

An official of a European Union (EU) political party who was deported after arriving in Cebu last Sunday voiced alarm over the Duterte administration’s hostility towards critics of its war on illegal drugs.

“We are with you. This incident will make us even more committed to the cause you are fighting for,” deputy secretary general Giacomo Filibeck of the Party of European Socialists told leaders and members of the militant partylist group Akbayan in a video message.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra justified Filibeck’s deportation, saying “it is unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities.”

Filibeck was held by immigration officers upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport at 3 p.m. last Sunday 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 scheduled to speak at the three-day party congress of Akbayan at Cityscape Hotel in Mandaue City yesterday.

“He (Filibeck) was escorted to the Clark Airport (in Pampanga) before he returned to Italy,” Akbayan youth coordinator Justine Balane said.

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 Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless war on drugs.

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

The PNP 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.

“The ridiculous charge of ‘illegal political activities’ is Duterte’s way of saying he wants to criminalize criticisms,” the partylist group 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 on his war against illegal drugs.

Party of European Socialists president Sergei Stanishev, in a separate statement, said he informed the office of Federica Mogherini, EU high representative for foreign and security policy, of the incident.

“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,” Stanishev said.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said he plans to file a resolution at the House of Representatives for a congressional inquiry into Filibeck’s deportation.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who attended the Akbayan Party Congress in Mandaue City, said deportation of critics is “one of the oldest tricks in the authoritarian style.”

Malacañang defended the decision of immigration officials to deport Filibeck, saying it is the government’s “sovereign decision” whom it would allow to enter the country.

“In international law, it is always a sovereign decision whom they wish to allow into their territory. So we are not obliged to allow anyone into our territory if we do not want them in our territory,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

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