By Genalyn Kabiling
The Philippine government has warned that illegal immigrants in the United States might abuse politics to flout their immigration laws following the “ignorant” granting of political asylum to a Filipino couple.
According to presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, Rene and Joy Flores are not known as political activists and might have used politics as a strategy to permanently stay in the United States.
“The Palace finds it amusing that an immigration judge from San Francisco, USA, granted political asylum in favor of the Flores couple,” he said in a statement.
“The Floreses have been illegally overstaying in the US. The ignorant granting of the judge of their application would therefore set a dangerous precedent to other illegal alliens who can abusively use politics as a scapegoat in violating immigration laws of the United States,” he added.
A San Francisco immigrant court reportedly granted political asylum to the Flores couple amid their fears of persecution if sent back to the Philippines. The couple, who flew to the US in 2000, has reportedly joined anti-Duterte protests on the bloody war on drugs since then.
Panelo, however, expressed doubts on the asylum application of the Flores couple. He said the couple attended political rallies and issued anti-Duterte statements while in the US as “a stratagem of their lawyer for them to stay permanently in the US and to shield them from being deported.”
“Apparently, they have opted for an easy way out at the expense of the Duterte Administration,” he said.
Panelo also pointed out that the administration has not resorted to persecution of critics and has even welcomed criticisms as long as they are based on facts. “No citizen of this country has been charged in court nor clamped in jail by reason of criticism against the policies of the present government,” he said.
He said if ever critics face criminal charges, both the administrative and judicial officers found probable cause for certain infringement of laws.
“Their being critics has absolutely nothing to with their criminal prosecution. They cannot hide behind the mantle of the freedom of the press and of speech when they are found violating the laws of the land,” he said.