Australian lawyer says reason for deportation ‘preposterous’

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)

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)