Government deports Canadian student in anti-Sona rally-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
(UPDATED) A Canadian student who allegedly joined an anti-government protest in the State of the Nation Address (Sona) last July 22 will not be allowed to visit the Philippines again.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) spokesperson Maria Angelica Pedro said Kim Chatillon-Meunier was sent back to her home country on Sunday night via Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight 118 bound for Vancouver, Canada. Her deportation came two days after she was detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.
Meunier, 24, was about to take her flight at 7:10 p.m. Friday for Hong Kong, when she was accosted and detained by BI officers.
Militant groups protested Meunier’s incarceration, saying she only observed the rally during the fourth Sona of President Benigno Aquino III as an intern of the international studies program of the University of Montreal.
Karapatan said Meunier also joined in the research and documentation of the reproductive health conditions of women in communities in Tondo, Manila.
But the immigration bureau stood by its story.
"The bureau has received a report from a law enforcement agency of her active participation (in the rally) which is a clear violation of the conditions of her stay," Pedro told Sun.Star.
In a text message, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) criticized the government for trampling basic rights.
“Rather than deter foreigners from being genuinely concerned about the human rights and social conditions in the country whether as an academic exercise or as an advocacy, these incidents will even trigger more questions on what the government is trying to hide or stop the world from fully seeing and knowing," said NUPL secretary general Edre Olalia.
NUPL is considering bringing Meunier’s case to the UN Human Rights Committee. Last month, the BI also briefly held and deported Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum for his participation in the anti-Sona rally.
Tourist visa holders taking part in rallies may face the same fate, said BI Officer-in-Charge Siegfred Mison.
"As we have repeatedly stated, foreigners have no business joining these rallies as the act amounts to violating the conditions of their stay as tourists," he said in a statement.
Mison said that they will ask the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in monitoring the presence of foreign nationals in mass actions.
The BI chief issued the warning as groups advocating against the priority development assistance fund (PDAF) are planning more mass actions pushing for the abolition of the controversial fund by lawmakers.
Several rallies have been held in Manila and Quezon City in the past weeks, the recent was the protest rally in Luneta attended by civil society groups, students, nuns among others. (Virgil Lopez/FP/Sunnex)