Oppressive Immigration Laws are now becoming tools for more human rights violations – NUPL

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemns the violations authored by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Authority (NICA) on the person of our good colleague and fellow human rights defender, Prof. Gill H. Boehringer, a retired law professor and dean from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. After being held in NAIA Terminal 1 for seven (7) days, Prof. Boehringer boarded China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou today, 14 August 2018 at around 12:50 pm, where he will be taking a connecting flight to Sydney.

Prof. Boehringer is 84 years old, an ailing Australian citizen and married to a Filipina who arrived at NAIA Terminal 1 before midnight on August 7 but was denied entry by immigration officials as his name allegedly appears on the watchlist. Prof. Boehringer probed as to the nature of the accusations against him but was deprived of any explanation from BI officials. We, in his representation, trooped down to the BI main office in Intramuros to get further information but were, likewise, denied of getting a complete picture of the charges hurled against him. What we got is an Order, placing him, along with two others, under the Watch List. We immediately filed our request to recall the exclusion order against him on medical and humanitarian grounds on August 9, citing his doctor’s findings that he is unfit to travel and the recommendation that he be examined further by a specialist in a hospital with the appropriate medical equipment. It was only in the Order denying our request for recall that we have confirmed that a blacklist order was likewise issued against him. We, then, filed our request for allow entry on medical and humanitarian grounds on August 10. However, the BI exploited all legal and bureaucratic maneuvers to dangle their approval of the said request.

In an orchestrated manner of sugarcoating the injustice with legal rhetorics, the BI insensitively and mercilessly, gave us the roundabout, putting the life of Prof. Boehringer in serious peril and in grave violation of his human rights. Until the last minute, the BI refused to squarely address the professor’s request for allow entry on medical and humanitarian grounds, but directed instead the airline company to immediately board the elderly professor onto the next flight out of NAIA, despite his medical condition.

As a staunch human rights defender, Prof. Boehringer is committed to denounce all forms of human rights violations authored by State forces and the culture of impunity that comes with them. This kind of commitment clearly hit the ego and earned him the ire of this bigoted and paranoid leadership.

We denounce this latest State-sponsored attack on human rights defenders. Once again, the Duterte Administration’s iron fist works behind the facade of the letters of the law to silence all the critics of this bloody regime. The use of oppressive immigration laws, as in the case as well of lawyer-nun-missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, to vilify human rights defenders is yet another display of cowardice of a tyrant to quell dissent.

Prof. Boehringer is a brave and committed soul and he will face the trumped up charges hurled against him at the proper time. Surely, he will not face these alone, but with us, his fellow human rights defenders, and the Filipino masses whom he has served all these years, standing by his side.#

Atty. Katherine A. Panguban
NUPL – National

Atty. Maria Sol G. Taule
Karapatan counsel

National Secretariat
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“By calling yourselves the ‘people’s lawyer,’ you have made a remarkable choice. You decided not to remain in the sidelines. Where human rights are assaulted, you have chosen to sacrifice the comfort of the fence for the dangers of the battlefield. But only those who choose to fight on the battlefield live beyond irrelevance.”
– Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno, in his message at the NUPL Founding Congress, September 15, 2007

“After long years of experience as a people’s lawyer, I can honestly say it has been a treasured journey of self-fulfillment and rewarding achievement. I know it will be the same for all others who choose to tread this path.”
– Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010

Attachment(s) from International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines | View attachments on the web