Duterte uses BS Aquino’s repressive immigration policy to suppress rights

“Two wrongs do not make a right. Both the Duterte and the Aquino governments are accountable for the creation and continued use of repressive policies, no doubt for their own gains. In any case, regardless of this useless and ludicrous blaming game, the fact is that this BI order is already being put to use to persecute a nun who has spent almost three decades of her life serving poor communities in the country," said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay in response to Duterte's speech Sunday, April 29, on the basis of the Bureau of Immigration’s decision regarding Sr. Patricia Fox. 

Duterte was referring to Operations Order SBM-2015-025, signed by then Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on July 3 2015, which prohibits foreign tourists from engaging in political activities in the country. Section 1 of the said order qualifies that prohibited actions involve “any political activities as defined by law and jurispurdence, such as but not limited to, joining, supporting, contributing or involving themselves in whatever manner in any rally, assembly or gathering whether for or against the government.”

This order and other policies were used by the Aquino administration in deporting Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum, in detaining Canadian student Kim Chatillon Meunier, in blacklisting Canadian activist Emile Kinley-Gauthier and in threatening other foreign activists who participated in fact finding ang solidarity missions on human rights violations in the Philippines. 

However, Palabay added that "Duterte reacts as if he is not immediately accountable for the arbitrary detention and subsequent BI ruling which orders Sr. Fox to leave the country. This whitewashing and blaming of previous regimes is an expertise of every government. The Aquino regime is accountable; the Aquino regime's mistakes do not excuse Duterte."

On Duterte questioning why he is being blamed for the pending removal of Sr. Fox in the country, Karapatan responded that he is “100% accountable”. Palabay emphasized that “he knew there was such an order, and he himself admitted to choosing not to revoke it. He was waiting for the right situation to implement the order, of course for the benefit of his government’s image. Now, he has the gall to lay blame somewhere else."

Karapatan underscored that the said BI policy violates internationally-recognized rights and freedoms under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights including the right to freedom of expression, to peaceably assemble, to association, and to exercise international solidarity. 

"Instead of taking steps to revoke this repressive order and stop the deportation of Sr. Fox, politicians take the diversionary route and trade blows with each other. This is not just about Duterte vs Aquino, Duterte vs De Lima, or Duterte supporters vs Liberal Party supporters; this is about how change has not come, and how all the bad from the previous  administration has been turned to worse by the current. This is thus the continuation of a repressive system that deliberately persecutes those who use their voices to amplify the calls for justice," Palabay concluded. 

Reference:

Cristina Palabay,  Secretary General,  09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk,  09189790580