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Palace defends deportation threat vs European leader

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PHILSTAR

Malacañang on Monday, April 16, maintained the government has discretionary authority to bar a European socialist leader from entering the country.

“There is no rule under the International Law that would compel us to admit anyone whom we do not want to admit in our territory. That’s the exercise of sovereignty,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a press briefing.

Mr. Roque’s comments followed on the heels of the deportation on Sunday of Deputy Secretary-General Giacomo Filibeck of the Party of European Socialists (PES).

Mr. Filibeck, an Italian national, “was barred from entering Cebu, Philippines on Sunday, April 15 on his way to join the Akbayan Partylist Congress where he was invited as guest,” the Akbayan party-list group said in a statement.

“He was held at the Cebu airport and immediately deported,” Akbayan added.

In a text message to Palace reporters on Monday afternoon, Bureau of Immigration (BI) Spokesperson Ma. Antonette H. Mangrobang said: “Mr. Filibeck departed the country on the same flight EK338 yesterday April 15, 2018 at 5:25 p.m.”

PES in its Web site said of Mr. Filibeck that he “took part in the most significant consultation processes in recent years within the EU (European Union), the Council of Europe, the UN (United Nations) and the World Bank.”

“In 2010 he joined the international department of Partito Democratico in Italy where he was in charge of the Middle East, the Mediterranean reaction and Africa. He therefore followed closely the ‘Arab spring’ events, supporting movements calling for democracy and respect of human rights,” PES also said.

Akbayan said the deportation of Mr. Filibeck “shows he’s (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) scared of global action against killings.”

“Are we in a dictatorship? The deportation of Filibeck is a deplorable act of silencing the strong voices for human rights. Filibeck was part of the international human rights mission on October 2017 where EU parliamentarians and NGO leaders denounced the killings under President Duterte’s campaign against drugs. The ridiculous charge of ‘illegal political activities’ is Duterte’s way of saying he wants to criminalize criticisms,” the group said. — Arjay L. Balinbin