Deportation, blacklisting of European party official reminiscent of recent past

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Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists, speaks at a forum in Beirut in October 2015. (PES Communications)

The deportation and eventual blacklisting of Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists has been met with opposition by administration critics, particularly from the Akbayan Party-list who invited Filibeck and its ally, the Liberal Party.

Filibeck, who was supposed to attend a gathering held by Akbayan in Cebu, was denied entry upon arrival at the Mactan Airport and was deported after being held in detention.

Following condemnation from his fellow solons from the opposition, Akbayan representative Tom Villarin has announced that he is filing a resolution in the lower house to look into Filibeck’s blacklisting.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra defended Filibeck’s deportation, saying that Filibeck as a tourist violated the terms of his stay.

“It is unlawful for aliens staying in our country to engage in partisan political activities, and the government has the right to refuse entry to those who have committed these illegal acts in the past,” Guevara said.

 

Legality vs justness

Despite administration critics’ opposition to Filibeck’s deportation, law provides for such a recourse in certain situations.

BI Operations Order No. SBM-2015-025 dated July 3, 2015 does in fact proscribe partisan political activity by foreigners.

According to Bureau of Immigration chief Jaime Morente, Filibeck violated the order when Filibeck joined a delegation in 2017 that denounced President Rodrigo’s war on drugs and called for an investigation into the matter.

For some administration critics, the matter of barring entry for politically-inclined visitors is a matter of equity rather than law.

PES head Sergei Stanishev has spoken out against the decision, arguing that Filibeck was “treated as a criminal on the orders of the government and forcible deported from the country.”

Ironically, it might be the opposition’s allies that set recent precedent for barring foreigners with political agendas from stepping on Philippine soil.

In 2013, Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum was blacklisted after being held in detention for 30 hours after he was photographed berating a weeping policeman while participating in the demonstrations against then-president Noynoy Aquino, a stalwart of the Liberal Party.

Ironically, it might be the opposition’s allies that set recent precedent for barring foreigners with political agendas from stepping on Philippine soil.

Van Beersum admitted to coming to the Philippines as a delegate of the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines with the purpose of joining the rallies against the alleged human rights violations of the previous administration.

The detention and blacklisting of Van Beersum came two years before immigration authorities released Operations Order SBM-2015-025, which expressly prohibits foreigners from engaging in “partisan political activity.”