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Pimentel: Foreigners are not above PH laws

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III on Tuesday said foreigners who visit the Philippines are not above the country’s laws and should not feel that they are far more “superior” than Filipinos.

In a press statement, Pimentel said Philippine laws prohibit foreigners from meddling in the political affairs of  the state during the duration of their stay here.

“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,” Pimentel said.

“If we want Filipinos to follow our laws then we should show to our own people that foreigners are not above our laws,” he added.

Pimentel was referring to the case of an official of the Party of European Socialists (PES) who was barred by the Bureau of Immigration from entering the country on April 15.

Giocomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the PES, was held and immediately deported by immigration officials upon 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 Duterte.

The deportation of the European activist drew criticisms from several opposition groups but the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the BI justified the government’s actions.

The DOJ said that Filibeck, like all tourists here, 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.” #