By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang denied that there is a crackdown on foreign critics of the administration. It maintained that government is only enforcing the law which prohibits aliens from participating in political activities.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque issued the statement after President Duterte admitted Wednesday that he ordered the investigation on 71-year-old Australian missionary Patricia Fox by immigration officers for her involvement in protest actions.
“The President and I remain united in our common stand that foreigners should not be engaged in any political activity,” Roque said yesterday.
“Malinaw po ang ating batas (The law is clear) – those in the Philippines are here because of our consent for them to be here but they are not allowed to engage in any political activity,” he reminded.
The Palace official said government is not going after its foreign critics but is only implementing the law and Operations Order no. SBM 2015-025 signed by then Immigration chief Sigfried Mison and approved by then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“Hindi po yan crackdown!Talagang ‘yan po ang batas. Sabi ko nga po (That is not a crackdown! That is the law. As I said), duralex, sedlex. The law may be harsh, but such is the law,” Roque stressed.
He cited cases of Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum who was deported in August 2013 for participating in a protest rally on the day of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address where he taunted a crying police officer. The incident was photographed.
Also during the Aquino presidency, a 24-year-old Hongkong-bound female Canadian student was intercepted by immigration agents as she lined up for checking for violating the conditions of her stay.
Roquesaid the law applies to any foreigner who participates in any political activity for or against the Duterte administration.
“We cross party lines in the issue of foreigners taking part in political activities,” he said.
Fox was fetched from her mission house in Quezon City Monday after the President ordered an investigation for participating in partisan political activity in Davao.
While Immigration spokesperson lawyer Ma. Antonette Mangrobang cited military intelligence as basis for Fox’ “invitation”, President Duterte admitted during turnover ceremonies of the Armed Forces Chief of Staff Wednesday that he ordered an investigation on Fox.
“You come here and insult us, you trample with our sovereignty. That will never happen. I assure you. If you begin to try to malign the government in any of those rallies there, I will order your arrest,” he added.
“Ikaw, madre (You, nun), why don’t you criticize your own government? The way you handled the refugees, hungry and dying, and you turn them back to the open sea. And now you’re getting rid of the natives there, and refugees in an island,” Duterte said.
Fox was released because she was not committing a crime at the time she was invited for questioning.
She will now undergo preliminary investigation to determine if she should be subjected to deportation proceedings.
Prior to Fox’s detention on Monday, the Australian missionary was previously detained by immigration authorities in 2013 for joining a farmers’ protest in Hacienda Luisita. She was released later without charges.