MANILA, Philippines—The Dutch activist who joined antigovernment protesters outside Congress during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address last month was apprehended by immigration agents at the airport yesterday as he was about to board a flight to China.
Immigration OIC Commissioner Siegfred Mison said Thomas van Beersum was stopped pursuant to a summary deportation order issued against him last week.
Beersum, in a blue hoodie, was accosted by immigration policemen and brought to the Bureau of Immigration holding area. He was reportedly with his Filipino fiancée who was allowed to take the flight.
The 20-year-old Dutchman declined to speak to reporters but smiled wearily at photographers and television cameramen. He had a cell phone and was in touch with his host, lawyers and the Dutch Embassy, immigration officials said.
Wilson Soloren, BI intelligence chief at Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, told reporters Beersum had been declared an “undesirable alien” by the BI board of commissioners and his name was placed on the “Alert List Order.”
The BI said Beersum would be rebooked on a flight to the Netherlands probably by noon Wednesday after the necessary clearances were obtained and his mug shot and biometrics were taken.
BI records showed Beersum arrived in Manila on June 13 on a 21-day tourist visa.
The Dutchman, however, said in an earlier TV interview that he arrived on June 5 and his visa was good for 59 days.
Beersum was the foreigner photographed berating Filipino antiriot policeman Joselito Sevilla who was crying while standing his ground in front of charging demonstrators on Commonwealth Avenue. The photo went viral on the Internet.
Beersum denied taunting or insulting Sevilla. He said he was only asking him and the other policemen why they were attacking the demonstrators.
Lawyers Rey Cortez and Jun Oliva of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers said they waited more than five hours to gain access to Beersum, being allowed to see him only at around 3 p.m.
“We were not allowed access to the BI office to personally talk to him even after we invoked his right to counsel. Instead we were told to get a pass,” Cortez said.
Lawyer Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, protested the “indefinite detention” of Beersum and said the authorities had no legal basis to stop him from boarding his return flight.
“To hold him any further without a valid hold departure order or valid warrant of arrest is an open violation of international law which we certainly do not want our own fellow countrymen to experience aboard,” he said.
Olalia said Beersum should not be condemned for expressing himself and for his message.
“Though he may seem ‘unpopular’ or ‘disagreeable’ to others who are mostly unwittingly agitated by the jingoist demonization of a young foreigner whose candid views and youthful zeal sincerely questioned government’s claims—even quite emphatically—the singular incident at the Sona rally obscures the real and more fundamental issues. Is he saying something that we should listen and look into?” Olalia said.