CHR: Foreigners visiting PH shouldn't lose rights to free speech, assembly


Posted at Apr 26 2018 02:01 PM

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MANILA - A foreigner's entry to the Philippines should not equate to the surrender of the rights to free speech and assembly, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said Thursday. 

The rights body made the statement in light of the Bureau of Immigration's (BI) cancellation of the missionary visa of 71-year-old Australian nun Patricia Fox for allegedly participating in a protest action. 

The BI said she violated the terms of her stay in the country. 

Foreign nationals should have freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly even outside their own country, said CHR Commissioner Chito Gascon. 

"Foreigners also have human rights, as much as citizens. That's why it is called human rights, not citizen rights, meaning it's universal,"

"When a visitor comes to the country and is accepted into the country, then that person should be free to exercise whatever rights they had prior to entry so long as -- I guess from the perspective of our immigration authorities -- [they] behave."
While protest actions are political in nature, these are not automatically partisan or could influence the selection of Filipino leaders, Gascon added. 

The CHR, he said, would investigate whether or not Fox was given due process and "enlighten government on [the] civilized way of relating to visitors." 

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said the cancellation of Fox's visa went through the proper procedure so the nun should comply with it. 

Fox had defended her presence in the rally saying she normally comes into contact with left-leaning groups because her missionary work involves dealing with farmers, indigenous peoples, and victims of social injustice.

Her camp has said she would appeal her expulsion. 

Earlier this month, the government also denied entry to and deported Giacomo Filibeck, a Socialist Party official from the European Union who had openly criticized President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown against illegal drugs. 

Roque said the government has a right to deny entry to undesirable foreigners.