SENATE President Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday stressed that foreigners who come to the Philippines are not above the country’s laws and should not feel that they are “superior” than Filipinos.
In a statement, Pimentel said that like in most countries in the world, there is a law in the Philippines that prohibits foreigners from meddling in our internal politics or political matters.
“When I visit other countries, I am very careful not to interfere with their domestic political issues because I know their law and I am a law-abiding citizen. These foreigners who come here should not feel that they are ‘superior’ to us and hence above our laws! All should follow the law!” Pimentel said.
“If we want Filipinos to follow our laws then we should show our own people that foreigners are not above our laws!” he added.
Pimentel issued the statement after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) barred an official of the Party of European Socialists (PES) from entering the country last April 15.
Giocomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the PES, was held and immediately deported by immigration officials upon his arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport last Sunday.
The Italian activist was supposed to join the 7th Akbayan Citizen’s Party Congress held last April 16, in Cebu City.
The BI ordered Filibeck’s deportation for supposedly violating the conditions of his stay as a tourist in the country last year.
In October 2017, he was part of a PES mission in the Philippines that called for an investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed under the war against drugs by the administration of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The deportation of the European activist drew criticisms from several opposition groups but the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the BI have defended the government’s actions.
The DOJ said that Filibeck, as a tourist, is not allowed to engage in “partisan political activity.”
In a statement issued Monday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said it is unlawful for aliens staying in the country to engage in partisan political activities, and “the government has the right to refuse entry to those who have committed these illegal acts in the past.”
In a separate statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente also said that Filibeck was not supposed to join partisan activities because, being a tourist, “he does not enjoy the rights and privileges of a Philippine citizen, particularly the exercise of political rights, which are exclusively reserved to Filipinos.”