By Janina Lim, Lifestyle Editor |
The Dutch activist, who has called worldwide attention after a photograph of him shouting at a crying cop went viral, was supposed to be flown back to his homeland, The Netherlands. Instead, he was detained last Tuesday at the NAIA immigration office.
He was deported the following day.
There are those perhaps who, like militant group bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, found the detention of Beersum “ridiculous that a person already set to leave the country will be detained only to be eventually deported,”.
But for those who understand the difference between leaving and being deported, there is nothing in the case that entitles ridicule.
Leaving is simply leaving. Being deported is leaving and never coming back. The purpose of this deportation of undesirable aliens, in which the term ‘undesirable’ is defined beyond ‘whimsical reasoning,’ is to secure the Philippines of any external factors that cause or attempt to cause any disturbance within the nation’s internal affairs.
With the clash between the side of Beersum and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on the subject of the validity of the Dutch activist’s deportation, it is a decent move to look into the case within the judgment of the law. We have heard the leftists. We have heard the government institutions. It’s time to hear the Constitution’s gavel hit to a conclusion.
Grounds for Deportation
The association of the adjective ‘undesirable’ to an alien ought to have a basis on his threat to civic health and national security. According to the Deportation of Aliens under the Immigration Law, Beersum corresponds to the definition of an ‘undesirable alien’ as described in two of the 13 clauses under paragraph (a).
In Article 7, Section 37, it states that “any alien who remains in the Philippines in violation of any limitation or condition under which he was admitted as a non-immigrant” is subject to deportation. Contradictory to the Dutch’s earlier TV interview last Tuesday in which he said he arrived on July 13 with a visa allowing him 59 days to stay in the country, BI records showed that Beersum arrived in the Philippines on July 5 with a 21-day tourist visa.
His overstaying is a legal reason for his deportation.
In the same section as the first description of an ‘undesirable alien’ stated above, Article 8 also orders “anyone who believes in, advises, advocates or teaches the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the Philippines, or of constituted law and authority or who disbelieves in or is opposed to organized government, or who advises, advocates or teaches the assault or assassination of public officials because of their office, or who advises, advocates, or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization entertaining, advocating or teaching such doctrines, or who in any manner whatsoever lends assistance, financial or otherwise, to the dissemination of such doctrines” to depart the country.”
Beersum cannot deny his engagement in the rally during President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22 as his pictures with the ‘crying cop’, later known to be SPO1 Joselito Sevilla, which circulated within social media at a viral rate serve as direct evidences.
The grounds for Beersum’s entitlement as an ‘undesirable alien and his deportation are, therefore, not whimsical, rather legal.
Secretary General Cristina Palabay of the human rights organization Karapatan, defended that Beersum was “being persecuted by the Aquino government for his exercise of his freedom of expression, a right ensured under the UN (United Nations) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights even of non-citizens, and his support for the campaign against extrajudicial killings and other human rights violations.”
Had the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allowed such right for non-citizens, then what would be the purpose of having a democracy compose a constitution that would limit the freedom of which action is necessary for the order and happiness of the whole national community?
According to Article 1 of the Article 21 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
“The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Palabay was greatly mistaken.
Invalid Warrant of Arrest
Secretary General of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers, Lawyer Edre Olalia, gave a statement calling the detention of Beersum “without a valid hold departure order or valid warrant of arrest” an “open violation of international law, which we certainly do not want our countrymen to experience abroad.”
In a case named Magno vs. Court of Appeals [GR 1011148], an alien bailed for relief in which the validity of the warrant of arrest and the detention that followed his arrest. The Supreme Court ruled that the warrantless arrest to detention is not the subject of concern since in the case of the plaintiff, the detention, not delayed and/or impermanent, immediately follows departure. And as long as the proceedings in the identification of an undesirable alien are properly conducted, wherein the facts and grounds for arrest first have to be rendered by the BI, validity of arrest no longer is an issue.
Right to Counsel
“We were not allowed access to the BI office to personally talk to him even after we invoked his right to counsel. Instead we were told to get a pass,” Lawyers Rey Cortez and Jun Oliva of the National Union of People’s Lawyers said. The lawyers had to wait for five hours before they were able to access Beersum at 3pm.
Any one, however, has the right to be counseled by a private or if in lack of financial income, a public attorney. The Bill of Rights, which protects all from State’s misuse of power whether the complainant be a citizen or not, is not conditional.
The lawyers may have complained of the requirement of a pass, but the pass, under security rules of the Manila International Airport Authority, is required for everyone with the exemption of passengers and employees, to enter the airport.
The lawyers’ wait for five hours, also, was not unconstitutional since it did not exceed the 18-hour detention period.
The Verdict and the process
The process of the arrest and deportation of Beersum, we can now say, was duly processed amidst the many complaints that claim otherwise. But Beersum would never have been deported if he were not allowed a visa to the Philippines in the first place.
One of the many functions of the Bureau of Immigration, as stated in the BI’s official website, is to “regulate the entry (arrival), stay (sojourn), and exit (departure) of foreign nationals in the country.” But in the statement of the BI’s spokesperson, Atty. Tonette Mangrobang, “the very nature” of Beersums stated purpose for coming to the Philippines is to engage in a political assembly, it is a clear assessment that there is a failure to review thoroughly the papers of Beersum whose tourist visa was granted by the Philippine embassy in Netherlands on April 8, 2013.
And perhaps that goes the same with the “more than a hundred human rights defenders from abroad” who Reyes said “joined the SONA (State of the Nation’ Address) protests to show support for the Filipino people’s struggle.”
In the last SONA, PNoy also mentioned the “substandard” performance of the BI, giving as an example the case of former Palawan governor Joel Reyes and brother, Mario, who were able to leave the country despite the unresolved accusations of being masterminds behind the murder of Gerardo Ortega, a broadcaster from Palawan.
It is either the BI start reassessing its system or its members be reassessed.