The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, April 16, justified the detention and deportation of a European politician, explaining that it is illegal for a tourist to engage in any “partisan political activity.”
Giacomo Filibeck, the deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialist (PES) and a native of Italy, was detained at the Cebu International Airport and immediately deported last Sunday, April 15.
In a message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra explained that it is “unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities.”
Guevarra also noted that the government “has the right to refuse entry to those who have committed these illegal acts in the past.”
Filibeck was supposed to join the Akbayan Party-list Congress as a guest of honor on Monday. Akbayan is a sister party of PES.
The Bureau of Immigration, however, ordered his deportation because he supposedly “violated the conditions of his stay when he came to the Philippines last year.”
Filibeck was part of a human rights delegation that visited Manila in October 2017 and denounced the killings under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
“He (Filibeck) was not supposed to do that because being a tourist he does not enjoy the rights and privileges of a Philippine citizen, particularly the exercise of political rights which are exclusively reserved to Filipinos,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
Morente also stressed that the Philippine government “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.”
In a statement on Tuesday, April 17, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said foreigners who visit the Philippines should not feel “superior” and must abide by the country’s law.
“When I visit other countries, I am very careful not to interfere with their domestic political issues because I know their law and I am a law-abiding citizen. These foreigners who come here should not feel that they are ‘superior’ to us and hence above our laws! All should follow the law!” Pimentel remarked.
He went on to say, “If we want Filipinos to follow our laws then we should show our own people that foreigners are not above our laws!”
Akbayan, meanwhile, called Filibeck’s deportation a “deplorable act of silencing the strong voices for human rights.”
The party also urged the House of Representatives to probe the PES official’s deportation, adding that the “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.”
PES president Sergei Stanishev, for its part, condemned how Filibeck was “treated as a criminal on the orders of the government and forcibly deported from the country.”
“Clearly, the president intends to silence criticism of his deadly policies both at home and abroad,” Stanishev said.
He continued: “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.”