NO LOVE, NO ENTRY: Malacañang on Monday defended the deportation of a European Union Socialist Party official in Cebu for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drugs crackdown last year.
Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists (PES), was denied entry at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in central Philippines for illegal political activity, an official of Akbayan said.
"In international law, it is always a sovereign decision whom they wish to allow into their territory so we are not obliged to allow anyone in our territory if we do not want them in our territory," Duterte's spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
Akabayan had said Filibeck's deportation "only shows how paranoid this government is in keeping the rest of the world blind from the damage President Duterte has done to our country."
Roque dismissed the comment saying, "Let the people decide kasi Akbayan naman has never had anything good to say about the President. "
Filibeck was due to attend the 2-day Akbayan Party Congress with about 20 other foreign delegates but was stopped at the immigration counter and handed a slip of paper informing him of the blacklist order, according to the party-list.
The other foreigners were allowed entry.
In Europe, PES also protested "in the strongest possible terms the unjustified detention and deportation" of one of its senior officials in the Philippines.
Sergei Stanishev, PES president, said it was "unacceptable" a member of the party "should treated as a criminal on orders of the government and forcibly deported from the country."
"Clearly, the president intends to silence criticism of his deadly policies both at home and abroad," he added.
But Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra justified the immigration bureau's action on Filibeck, an Italian Socialist Party official who was part of the former ruling party in Rome.
"It is unlawful for aliens staying in our 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," Guevarra said in a text message to reporters.
Filibeck was in the country in October 2017 together with an international human rights fact-finding mission, which denounced the killings under Duterte's anti-drugs campaign.
Some 4,000 people have died while resisting arrests in police anti-narcotics operations since July 2016.
Duterte is under scrutiny by the international community, including the International Criminal Court, for the killings.
With a report from Reuters