Ahead of SONA, foreigners told: Don't join political activities


Posted at Jul 17 2019 03:54 PM

Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum confronts Filipino police officer Joselito Sevilla, who broke into tears amid a dispersal of protesters outside Batasang Pambansa during the State of the Nation Address in 2013. The foreigner was later deported. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Philippine law prohibits foreign nationals from engaging in political activities, the Bureau of Immigration reiterated Wednesday, days ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation Address. 

"Joining political demonstrations is an utter display of disrespect to the country's authorities, and is equivalent to meddling in our internal affairs as a sovereign nation," Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement. 

"We are sending this warning to avoid a repeat of the cases wherein we had to deport foreign protesters," he added. 

Authorities last year deported 71-year-old Australian nun Patricia Fox for supposedly engaging in political acts, including a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindanao. 

Also last year, Zimbabwean Tawanda Chandiwana, American Adam Thomas Shaw, and Malawian Miracle Osman were ordered to leave for involvement in leftist activities. 
Meanwhile, Dutch citizen Thomas van Beersum was deported in 2013 after taunting a crying policeman during a protest, while Canadian student Kim Chatillon-Miller was also deported for joining an anti-SONA demonstration the same year. 

Aside from joining political activities, foreigners can also be deported for acts that constitute overthrowing the government, unlawful destruction of property, and violation of the conditions of their stay, noted Morente. 

"If found guilty, we will blacklist these foreigners, effectively barring them from re-entering the Philippines," he warned. 

Duterte will bare his legislative agenda in his fourth SONA on Monday, July 22.