Gov’t bars ailing Australian human rights lawyer from entering country

The government set its sights on another Australian human rights lawyer, this time preventing him from entering the Philippines.

Former Macquerie University law professor and long-time advocate for human rights in the Philippines Gill Boehringer is being held by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 since midnight of August 8 upon his arrival from Sydney.

The professor is set to be deported after being told he was blacklisted for allegedly joining protest actions and fact-finding missions in the Philippines, Karapatan reported in an alert.

Boehringer is the second Australian lawyer and human rights campaigner who ran afoul with the Rodrigo Duterte government after Australian Notre Dame de Sion missionary Sr Patricia Anne Fox who is also in danger of being deported after staying for 27 years in the Philippines.

Boehringer, 84 years old, with dual citizenship in the Australia and US, is returning to the country to be with his Filipino wife.

Sources told Kodao that the BI originally wanted to deport Boehringer on the earliest flight back to Australia Wednesday but the lawyer was sick, even throwing up at the airport.

Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes of the Health Alliance for Democracy rushed to Boehringer’s aid, accompanied by Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus and fellow lawyer Ma. Sol Taule yesterday.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers also reportedly requested Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to defer Boehringers deportation to allow the professor to physically recover before boarding a flight back to Sydney.

The Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned government for blacklisting the elderly lawyer and refusing him entry back to the Philippines.

“The Duterte regime is unsettled by the international clamor against its anti-Filipino policies. It works tirelessly to prevent individuals from exposing the gross rights violations happening in the country, cowardly hiding behind the rhetoric of exercising the country’s sovereign will,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan said Boehringer has been actively campaigning for human rights issues in the Philippines since the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, including the plight of the Lumad in resource-rich areas in Mindanao and militarization of their communities which has intensified with the martial law declaration.

“It is deeply alarming how foreign nationals who express international solidarity with the Filipino people are barred from the country. The real crooks, on the other hand, are given a free pass in and out of the country,” noted Palabay, adding that BI’s  Operations Order SBM 2015-025 against foreign nationals be immediately repealed.

“This is the Duterte regime’s paranoia. The regime is showing its cracks, (being) defensive and scared to be buried under the weight of its own crimes against the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)