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Foreigners warned against marching vs pork

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Part of the crowd in the Million People March against the pork barrel system in Luneta on Aug. 26, 2013. The Bureau of Immigration on Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, said it would arrest and deport foreign tourists caught joining protest rallies in the country, particularly demonstrations set against the pork barrel scam. PHOTO BY RICK ALBERTO

Think twice before joining demonstrations in the country, the Bureau of Immigration on Monday warned foreigners, a few days after it deported a Canadian student arrested last week for joining a protest rally during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address in July.

The BI said it would arrest and deport foreign tourists caught joining protest rallies in the country, particularly demonstrations set against the pork barrel scam.

“As we have repeatedly stated, foreigners have no business joining these rallies as the act amounts to violating the conditions of their stay as tourists,” BI OIC Commissioner Siegfred Mison said.

The bureau has tapped the Philippine National Police to help monitor the foreigners in such mass actions.

The BI said it was expecting more antipork rallies in the coming days.

On Friday, immigration officials detained Canadian student Kim Chatillon-Meunier, who had been placed on the BI watch list for joining the protest rally during Mr. Aquino’s Sona in July.

She was allowed to leave on Sunday after the bureau issued a “voluntary deportation and release order” to her.

Another activist, Thomas van Beersum, was deported last month also for joining the Sona protest rallies outside Congress.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and the human rights group Karapatan said Meunier took a direct flight to Vancouver, Canada, on Philippine Airlines at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

The student thanked the two groups for their support in a text message: “I could never thank you enough for your help and I will always remember it,” she said.

Canadian media earlier reported that Meunier’s boyfriend and fellow student Emile Kinley-Gauthier had also been in the Philippines but that he had left Manila on Aug. 1 without any hassle.

Gauthier admitted that he and Meunier took part in the July 22 Sona rally but they were just “observing.”

NUPL officials Edre Olalia and Julian Oliva said foreigners do not give up their basic rights, including the right to free speech, when they go to another country. The lawyers said Meunier was present in the rally only as an observer, and that she did not join the march nor did she speak in the rally.

“They should not have stopped Ms. Meunier from leaving in the first place and put her behind bars like a hardened criminal for almost two days. This is plain harassment and unnecessary aggravation. Such casual arrest and detention is (part of a) martial law mindset and tactics,” the NUPL said.

“Rather than deter foreigners from being genuinely concerned about the human rights and social conditions in the country whether as an academic exercise or as an advocacy, these incidents will trigger more questions on what the government is trying to hide,” Oliva said in a text message.

Originally posted at 08:39 pm | Monday, September 16, 2013


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  • kulittwit

    Tourists joining rallies are fake tourists. they are activists.

    • panhase

      How do you know? And the last foreigner apprehended was just watching a rally. The BI is barking up the wrong tree.

      • ManilaMan

        International Solidarity and Humanitarian Mission in Quezon delegate.
        I wonder what’s there to see in the mountains of Quezon province. Hadn’t anyone warned her of the risks of traveling to that area? That place is terrorist-infested as far as i know. although i heard those terrorists are “nice people.” Kewl!

  • larskyhnau

    As Oliva says at the end of the article, this kind of martial law mentality behaviour of philippine authorities will only trigger even more questions from the rest of world about, what is going on in the Philippines. They will not make the issue go away. So much better, that authorities focus on the REAL problem, which is the corruption, people are protesting against. These protests are not unreasonable in any way, quite the contrary.

    • Atagalong

      Good!

    • ManilaMan

      The nation is in turbulent times with the monstrous challenge of “government cleansing” and massive political reforms to overcome. To foreigners, we have enough people protesting in the streets so please stay away from the trouble spots as much as you can. Needless to say, the current crackdown on foreigners participating in political rallies will have zero effect on the Philippine image as a tourist destination. In fact, even Thailand that had been rocked by political turmoil with several foreigners deported for joining red shirt rallies between 2010 and 2011 has even posted unprecedented growth in foreign tourist arrivals amounting to 16M in 2010 and 19M in 2011 from 14M in 2009.

      • larskyhnau

        Needless to say, the current crackdown on foreigners participating in political rallies will also have zero effect on the protests or on the underlying massive problems with corruption. So at best its a complete waste of time or a deliberate attempt to divert attention away from the real problems.

        I will agree though, that most potential turists will never have heard of these deportations, and even if they have, it might not prevent them from coming anyway, because they dont plan on participating in rallyes. So the claim that it will hurt turism is for sure overdone.

        But there is still a more general issue of image. And here Thailand and Philippines actually differ massively.

        Thailand started out with a good image and has managed to
        maintain that despite actually having many problems with both political turmoil in Bangkok and violence in the south.

        The Philippines on the other hand started out with a very bad image centered mostly around the Marcos era, hostage taking in Mindanao and poor safety at see, the latter being reinforced lately by the Cebu sea mishap. These 3 things are, what the Philippines is mainly known for abroad. So there is no goodwill to draw on.

        And therefore the Philippines simply need to work a lot harder, if it wants to turn its current negative image around. Empty slogans like “its more fun in the Philippines” wont do it alone.

      • ManilaMan

        Point taken and i agree that the government needs to work harder to address the country’s image problem abroad. But as far as tourism is concerned, image is only secondary to the character of your destinations and number of attractions. So foreigners will still come, despite Thailand having a reputation for drug smuggling and prostitution. Think Hangover Part 2. I think the Philippines image is not That bad. Considering the higher penalties and cruelty of punishment in more conservative destinations, Muslim countries for example.

      • larskyhnau

        I mostly agree. A “bad” image in itself is not that important to most turists. But concern for their own safety is. So drug smuggling and prostitution for example will not keep turists away, because its not dangerous for them. But bomb explosions, kidnappings and a high level of crime will.

        Its also true, that the reputation of RP in not that bad compared to, say, some muslim countries. But compared to Thailand, at least in my country (a european country), there is still a very low level of knowledge about the Philippines.

        Many people here have now been to vacation in Thailand. So even those, who havn`t, usually know someone, who have, and who have come back with reports on, what a wonderfull place it is. So it feels relatively safe to go there, even its your first time.

        When I tell people, I am married to a pinoy on the other hand, usually they openly admit, they know very little about the country. And then the next sentence is usually something about either Marcos or Mindanao or the latest typhoon. Not golden beaches, grilled fish or midnight swims.

        So image and lack of knowledge is for sure a barrier towards increased turism from the european markets. That being said I am not sure mass turism a´la Thailand is that desirable anyway. It mostly create low-skilled service jobs and has a huge cultural and environmental impact.

        So maybe its not so bad after all, that turism in the RP is still a bit low-key, and that growth is talking place in other industries like outsourcing and IT instead.

  • dragonian

    why flips? i thought flippines are demoncratic….freedom of speech……right? why so selective? flipped again?

    • AmericanBana

      LOL! yeah, democratic as the good ole USA! Your free to speak and vote, does not make any difference, politicians will still do what they want to do.
      BI Watch List? We used to have that here in the Edgar Hoover days, but we called it “Commie Watch List”, nothing democratic about it!

  • larskyhnau

    I have now read some of the previous news articles about this young Canadian student. And it seems, that there is quite more to the story, than appear from this latest article and the statements made by BI.

    First she was not apprehended at the rally but 3 weeks later, when she was actually trying to leave the country. She was apprehended in the airport, because she had been put on the BI watch list.

    Now obviouly she was not put on the BI Watch list, because she participated in a rally. Because there is no way authorities can know, who participated in a rally, unless they apprehend them at the site. And if she had been apprehended at the site, then obviously there would be no need to put her on a watch list. Then she would be in their custody already. So the statement:

    “who had been placed on the BI watch list for joining the protest rally during Mr. Aquino’s Sona in July.”

    can logically not be true. So why WAS she placed on the BI watch list then? And why was she apprehended in the airport, when she was already trying to leave the country and could therefore also not do any more “harm” to the RP anyway? If they just wanted her out, then why prevent her from leavning? That makes no sence.

    The answer dawns, when you read the older articles about the case. She had reportly participated in some kind of political convention or camp in the Quezon province. Or to put it another way: She had met with some people, who the government doesn`t like, and who they are watching closely.

    So who are those people, that the government dislikes so much, that they are watching them closely enough to know, they have met with a particular canadian student? In reality we will never know. The goverment will probably claim, that they are terrorists connected to the NPA. And maybe they are. But maybe they aren`t. Because the government has a tendency to see all politically active people, human rights activists etc. as being part on NPA. Which is a convenient excuse for not respecting their constitutional rights and suppress any critical views on, what the goverment is doing.

    It is comforting to know, that the BI did not just round up some random hapless foreigner, who happened to be present at a time and place, where a rally was taking place, and kick her out of the country. But on the other hand, digging deeper into the story raise many other questions. Like why BI is sending out a loud public message, they did just that, when its actually not the case?

  • 33Sam

    YEAH THEY DON’T WANT TO GIVE THE PROTESTS MORE VALIDITY BY SHOWING FOREIGNER FACES.

    “Rather than deter foreigners from being genuinely concerned about the human rights and social conditions in the country whether as an academic exercise or as an advocacy, these incidents will trigger more questions on what the government is trying to hide,”

    FILIPINOS ARE ALWAYS SO OBVIOUS IN THEIR WORDS AND DEEDS..

    WHY DON’T YOU ADMIT TO THE PEOPLE THAT SOVERIGNTY WAS SOLD BY RAMOS TO THE UNITED NATIONS WHEN HE SIGNED EXECUTIVE ORDER PA 21 IN 1997 AKA AGENDA 21, MAKING THE PHILIPPINES A SUZERAINTY UNTO THE U.N. WHICH MEANS WAR POWERS ARE UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE U.N.??

    THIS IS WHY OBAMA’S FIRST INSTINCT WAS TO GO TO WAR ON SYRIA WITHOUT ASKING CONGRESS UNTIL SOME ALERT PEOPLE CALLED HIM ON IT, AS THE U.S. AS WELL AS 159 OTHER COUNTRIES, CHINA, ARE SIGNED ONTO AGENDA 21.

    NOW U.S. REP WALTER JONES OF NORTH CAROLINA HAS PROMISED IMPEACHMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST OBAMA IF OBAMA DOES NOT GET THE FULL CONSENT OF CONGRESS.

    AS CONGRESSMAN JONES STATED ON 9.18.2013, THAT OBAMA CLAIMS HE “CALLED CONGRESS” FOR THE SYRIA BATTLE MOVE , BUT JONES QUALIFIED THAT OBAMA MERELY CONTACTED ONE OR TWO PEOPLE IN THE CONGRESS, BYPASSING THE ENTIRE REST OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BODY. AND THAT ONE OR TWO CONGRESSMEN ARE NOT ENOUGH TO CONSTITUTE CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL AS THOSE ONE OR TWO PEOPLE DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE ENTIRE CONGRESS.



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