By Jun Ramirez
Tourists are prohibited from participating in partisan political activity. And for violating the conditions of his stay last year, Italian Giacomo Filibeck was blacklisted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
Filibeck came to the country in October last year to attend a party congress of Akbayan Partylist where he reportedly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s illegal drugs campaign. Filibeck then was part of a delegation of European politicians who conducted a fact-finding mission in the Philippines which denounced the “extrajudicial killings” of thousands in Duterte’s anti-drug campaign. Akbayan is reportedly a sister party of the Party of European Socialists where Filibeck is deputy secretary general.
On Sunday, Filibeck arrived at the Mactan International Airport in Cebu upon the invitation of Akbayan to speak at its 7th Regular Congress in Cebu City on the occasion of the partylist’s 20th anniversary.
Giacomo was denied entry and deported by Immigration authorities.
Immigration chief Jaime Morentein a statement said, “We cannot allow the entry of foreigners who have shown disrespect to our duly-constituted authorities by meddling and interfering in our internal affairs as a sovereign nation.”
As a tourist, Morente said Filibeck “does not enjoy the rights and privileges of a Philippine citizen, particularly the exercise of political rights which are exclusively reserved to Filipinos.”
He reminded tourists of BI Operations Order No. SBM-2015-025 dated 03 July 2015 where “foreign tourists in the Philippines are enjoined to observe the limitation on the exercise of their political rights during their stay in the Philippines.”
Filibeck’s party denounced his deportation, saying 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 MrDuterte’s increasingly authoritarian rule in the Philippines.”
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque justified Filibeck’s deportation.
“In international law, it is always the sovereign decision who 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,” Roque said in a Palace news conference.
“Unfortunately, the socialist leader was one of those that we determined as a person we don’t want to be in our territory,” he said.
“Akbayan condemns, in the strongest terms, the detention and deportation of European human rights leader Giacomo Filibeck,” the partylist said in a statement.
“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,” it added.
Roque said it is up to the people to decide on the matter, adding Akbayan never said anything good about the President.
Senators Risa Hontiveros and Bam Aquino likewise condemned Filibeck’s deportation.
Not the first
According to Immigration spokesperson lawyer Ma. Antonette Mangrobang, Filibeck is not the first foreigner to be deported for meddling in Philippine affairs.
In 2013, Mangrobang said 20-year-old Dutch activist Thomas Van Beersum was deported for berating a police officer during a rally against former President Benigno Aquino’s State Of the Nation address (SONA).
Beersum was photographed yelling at a weeping riot police officer during the protest outside the Congress bldg. in Quezon City
“He (Beersum) not only took part in a protest rally but he also berated and used foul words against the police officer,” Mangrobang said. “He was later deported for violating the conditions of his tourist visa and was put on our blacklist.” (With reports from AFP, Genalyn D. Kabiling, Jeffrey G. Damicog and Lesley Camina de Vestil)