BI reminder to foreigners: Don’t attend political activities

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    IMMIGRATION Commissioner Jaime Morente yesterday warned foreigners against attending rallies and other political activities while in the country, or they face risk of arrest or deportation, and even blacklisting.

    Morente reiterated the prohibition as the country celebrated on Tuesday the 34th anniversary of the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.

    The commemoration is usually attended by rallies and other mass activities. Morente said foreigners are not allowed to attend rallies and protest actions for or against the government because such rights are reserved for Filipinos only.

    He, however, clarified that they have not received any information about foreigners joining protest actions or other mass activities.

    “A visitor of a country is allowed to stay here for health, business or pleasure. Joining rallies and protests is an utter display of disrespect to the country, and is equivalent to meddling in our internal affairs as a sovereign country,” Morente said.

    Aside from possible arrest and deportation, Morente said foreigners who violate the rule risk having their names included in the immigration’s blacklist which would effectively bar them from re-entering the country.

    Last year, the BI deported Australian nun Patricia Fox for allegedly participating in rallies and other political activities in the country.

    In 2018, it also barred entry into the country of Australian professor Gill Hale Boehringer for allegedly engaging in political activities, including participating in a rally three years before.

    Likewise, in April 2018, the BI barred Italian national Giacomo Filibeck, the deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, from entering the country for allegedly engaging in political activities when he earlier denounced the bloody anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration.

    Filibeck was supposed to attend the 20th anniversary of the party-list group Akbayan in Cebu City.

    Prior to that, the BI has also deported three United Methodist Church missionaries – Zimbabwean national Tawanda Chandiwana, Adam Shaw of Brunswick, Ohio and Miracle Osman of Blantyre, Malawi – for alleged involvement in leftist-organized activities in Mindanao in violation of their missionary visas.