Group hits ârepressiveâ BI order used as basis to detain Australian nun
Sr. Patricia Fox was detained from for nearly a day over her supposed violation of the order banning engagement in partisan activities political assemblies.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman
Group hits ‘repressive’ BI order used as basis to detain Australian nun
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - April 19, 2018 - 11:52am

MANILA, Philippines — A rights group on Wednesday slammed the immigration order banning foreign tourists from participating in political activities, raising concerns that it would be used to harass and arrest more foreigners critical of the Philippine government.

Karapatan stressed that the detention of rights and land reform advocate Sister Patricia Fox highlighted the “adverse impact and repressive features” of Operations Order SBM-2015-025, which is the ground cited by the Bureau of Immigrations when it held up the Australian nun and deported Giacomo Filibeck, an official of the Party of European Socialists.

Fox was detained from for nearly a day over her supposed violation of the order banning engagement in partisan activities political assemblies.

The group said that the right of individuals to international solidarity, freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly should be accorded without discrimination to both citizens and non-citizens.

READImmigration: Foreigners banned from joining pro-government rallies too

Operations Order SBM-2015-025 provides that “foreign tourists are prohibited from engaging in any political activity as defined by law and jurisprudence, such as but not limited to, joining, supporting, contributing or involving themselves in whatever manner in any rally, assembly, gathering, whether for or against the government.”

“This order along with Philippine immigration laws have been the basis for the arrest of Sr. Pat and will undoubtedly be used to crackdown on foreigners critical of [President Rodrigo] Duterte regime’s anti-people policies,” Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said.

She added that due pressure should be shown to junk such order, saying it is an “unconstitutional policy and one that violates international human rights law.”

In 2013, Immigration officials also prevented Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum who joined a rally during President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address from leaving the country. He was held for around 30 hours before being presented a deportation order.

READ: Critics ask: If Duterte has nothing to hide, why the crackdown on foreign activists?

Bruised ego

Duterte on Wednesday blasted Fox for her supposed vocal criticism of the government and took full responsibility for the detention of the foreign lay missionary.

“I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested but to invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct,” he said.

The president’s tirade came just hours after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a television that an apology might be in order following the detention of Fox, which he said could have been a mistake.

But on Thursday, Roque said in another television interview that there was a mistake in the BI proceedings of Fox and lauded the president for taking another responsibility for it.

Palabay said that the insults of Duterte against Fox are signs of a macho-fascist’s bruised ego.

“What a pitiful man, desperate for respect by way of disrespecting others. Duterte’s macho-fascist ego is once again bruised by the widespread support for Sr. Pat and the condemnation against his government thereafter,” she said.

The Karapatan secretary-general added: “It is ironic how Duterte accuses Sr. Pat of having no shame and of having a foul mouth, while spewing hate speech against her.”

READDuterte says he ordered Immigration to investigate Australian nun

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