American ban
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - September 29, 2019 - 12:00am

Time for a lot of Philippine officials to whisk off to America. Better enjoy the remaining whiffs of democratic shores while they can, because soon, they won't be allowed to enter the US. If the American Senate Appropriations Committee, who seem to have taken up the cudgels for imprisoned Senator Leila de Lima, gets its way.

News wires have it that Philippine government officials who are somehow involved in the continuing detention of De Lima will be included in a blacklist, American borders will be closed to them. The ban is being introduced in an appropriations bill by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin. I don't know how that list will be drawn up - presumably, prosecutors and justice officials who have been vocal about their animosity towards De Lima will be listed.

That's understandable -their names will have been written down on charge sheets or indictments. There's some government document that ties them to De Lima. But what about those who simply straddle the opposite political spectrum, and have opportunistically attacked her while she's muzzled? Are they included?

A lot of Filipinos harboring the American dream (there are plenty in government service) are sure to be worried. Will they get blacklisted? Will they never watch Broadway musicals and spend taxpayers’ money on chili dogs in Coney Island? Looks like we will see less bombastic and misogynistic broadsides hurled against the senator by kibitzers for the meantime.

Panelo has called the ban an insult, disrespectful to Filipinos, and an interference in our freedoms and sovereignty. Manila Representative Benny Abante called it a “slap in the face of Philippine sovereignty.”

Is it, though? After all, every nation can choose who can or cannot enter. For example, if a particular country is homophobic Islamist, they could pass a law disallowing brown gay Muslims from entering, allowing only smooth white Asian gays. Or they can decide not to recognize Taiwanese citizens, Rohingya refugees, or Syrian migrants as people, and block them. You get my drift.

In the same vein, if America wants to define terrorists and anti-democratic stooges as not only those hijab-wearing deep-set eyed men with long beards, but also those Filipinos who persecute a senator who only wants to conduct an investigation, then America is perfectly free to do that. That's an exercise of their sovereignty.

And is this ban disrespectful of Filipinos? That it doesn't trust our justice system and takes the thinking we can't even run our own investigation? (Long drawn-out pause. Does anyone want me to actually say we can trust our own justice system? Or that bungled or compromised investigations never happen here?).

So, do I feel disrespected? Not really. I’m so used to being treated like a second-class human whenever I enter America, what's another assumption made about me because of my country. Especially when there's lots of evidence to back up that assumption.

Not only does America assume we all want to be illegal immigrants when one applies for a visa, they also assume we’re all poor and uneducated, unless we prove otherwise by showing our steady jobs, land titles, and bank accounts. Now that makes me feel disrespected, but does the government ever get on its high horse?

Should I now feel offended because the wheels of justice in this country creak very slowly, and justice officials are "mercurial" (to say the least)?

Never fear, Filipino officials. If America doesn't want you, that's okay. Anyway, you've already told America you prefer China, right? So why not just visit China. I hear there's a fascinating camp in Xianjing where Chinese Muslims are imprisoned. Studying how the Chinese government is successful (or not) at indoctrinating Muslims into accepting Chinese-hood might be a good exercise at state authoritarianism. They even harvest fresh organs, just what any old, creaking politician needs when their bodies surrender from all that abuse. Wonderful lessons at a great tourist spot, wouldn't you agree?

De Lima's internment wouldn't hold a candle to it.

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