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BI bars Aussie professor, 84, from entering PH

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has barred the entry of an 84-year-old Australian professor over his alleged participation in past protest actions in the Philippines.

Professor Gill Boehringer, a lawyer and longtime human rights advocate, was held by immigration agents at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) Terminal 1 on his arrival from Sydney past midnight on Wednesday.

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Boehringer was set to be deported after being told that he was on the bureau’s blacklist of foreigners, allegedly for joining protest actions and fact-finding missions in Mindanao, according to Cristina Palabay, secretary of human rights group Karapatan.

In an interview with the Inquirer, the professor said he was simply told that he would need to leave on the next flight to Sydney.

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“Being a lawyer, I think I should be entitled to know what the [allegations against me] are, and be given a chance to respond to them. I think that’s the fair thing,” Boehringer said.

Visiting his wife

Palabay said Boehringer remained at the immigration office at Naia and was advised by doctors to get some sleep while his lawyers tried to obtain documents of his deportation.

In a statement, Karapatan called on the authorities to respect the rights of Boehringer, including his right to due process and to have access to his family, lawyers and doctors.

Boehringer is visiting his Filipino wife and has health problems.

He had originally planned to take a flight to Mindanao, where his wife lives, on Saturday, and to fly back to Australia on Oct. 23.

“I would hope that I would be allowed to stay with my wife. That’s what I came here for. We miss each other enormously,” he said. “I love the country and the people. I have no idea why I should be picked out.”

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Karapatan described the government’s action against Boehringer as another case of harassment.

It said similar deportation orders were issued against Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox, as well as three Methodist missionaries from the United States, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

‘Deeply alarming’

“It is deeply alarming how foreign nationals who express international solidarity with the Filipino people are barred from the country [while] the real crooks are given a free pass in and out of the country,” Palabay said.

According to Karapatan, Boehringer has been campaigning for human rights issues here since the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

He is known to have campaigned against the supposed militarization of “lumad” (indigenous people) communities in Mindanao, which reportedly intensified with the declaration of martial law.

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TAGS: Australian missionary, Bureau of Immigration, Cristina Palabay, Gill Boehringer, Karapatan, Patricia Fox
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