Australian lawyer and human rights advocate Gill Boehringer said he has instructed his Philippine lawyers to contest allegations cited by the Bureau of Immigration in planning to deport him.
Boehringer, tagged as having associated himself with communist groups in the Philippines, is being prevented from entering the country since August 8 upon arrival from Sydney.
“I have instructed my lawyers to contest all allegations against me, and to seek the lifting of the ‘blacklist’, the ‘watchlist’ and the exclusion order,” he said.
The former Macquerie University law school dean and professor in a statement said the allegation by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency that he is associated with underground groups in the country is “preposterous”.
“It seems that in the Philippines today almost anyone can be labelled a terrorist or in association with terrorists. I deny the accusation. I certainly am not a supporter of terrorism from whatever source,” he said.
Boehringer said he did not attend the anti-Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation rally in the Philippines in November 2015 and there was no rally in February 2018 when he observes Lumad schools activities in Mindanao.
He explained that his participation in Lumad school activities was based only on his special interests in teaching and research.
“I believe there is no basis for my exclusion from the Philippines in what was an educational experience for myself, the others who travelled with me into the mountain district, and also, I like to think, for those we met with there,” he said.
Boehringer admitted he had been critical of policies of successive governments since he became an international observer of the 2007 and 2010 elections but denied these as activities of a terrorist.
“Rather, they might more appropriately be considered an attempt to make a rational contribution within the vibrant national discourse about how democracy can be strengthened, the rule of law protected and social justice ensured,” he said.
“I would ask the government to recognize me as a person who has visited the country over many years with no subversive intent. I have sought in an intellectual way, through public dialogue, to aid in the maintenance of the rule of law and the structures and processes of democracy,” he added.
Boehringer thanked his lawyers and his doctors for taking care of him throughout his ordeal at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, as well as the individuals and supporters who called on the Rodrigo Duterte government to allow him entry to the Philippines on medical and humanitarian grounds, to no avail.
Boehringer travelled to the Philippines to visit his Filipino wife.
Meanwhile, Boehringer’s physician, Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes, slammed the BI on its decision to deport the 84-year old lawyer.
“The Bureau of Immigration is being heartless in pursuing the deportation of Prof. Gill Boehringer, Rivera-Reyes of the Health Action for Human Rights said.
She said Boehringer “has a history of an almost fatal pulmonary embolism. Aside from his risk of having deep vein thrombosis, he is currently suffering from cellulitis on both legs,” she explained.
Human rights group Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, which counts Boehringer as a member, also said it condemned his detention and planned deportation. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)