A Philippine presidential spokesman has denied that there is a crackdown on foreigners, saying that the ban on their political participation is in the law.
“It’s not a crackdown. It’s really the law. The law may be harsh, but such is the law,” said spokesman Harry Roque, a former human rights lawyer.
President Rodrigo Duterte, 73, this week said he had ordered the Bureau of Immigration to investigate Patricia Fox (pictured), an Australian nun, for her “disorderly behaviour”. Roque said Dutch and Australian citizens had been arrested in the past for taking part in political activities.
The outspoken Duterte’s also launched a public tirade against the 71-year-old nun.
On Wednesday Duterte criticised Fox for her supposed vocal criticism of his presidency and told her to take on the Australian government and the Catholic Church instead for their failings.
“It seems that there was a mistake in the case of Sister Fox and maybe apologies are in order because she was immediately released by CID [Commission on Immigration and Deportation]. CID also commits mistakes,” Roque announced.
Fox has spent 27 years in the Philippines working as a missionary and defending farmers’ rights.
The nun was held for one day this week for her supposed violations of an immigration order banning foreigners from participating in political activities.
Under the Immigration Operations Order “foreign tourists are prohibited from engaging in any political activity as defined by law and jurisprudence, such as … any rally, assembly, gathering, whether for or against the government”.
Police leading Duterte’s war on drugs have been promoted this week, indicating there will be no relaxation in the brutal crackdown.
Oscar Albayalde, a strict disciplinarian who has been in charge of Manila, where the vast majority of the thousands of drugs killings have occurred, was named national police chief.
Succeeding Albayalde as Manila’s top officer is Camilo Cascolan, the architect of the controversial “double barrel” anti-drug campaign.
Cascolan is the latest high-profile officer to be promoted after earlier working with Duterte in the Mindanao city of Davao during the 22 years that the populist leader was mayor. The outgoing national police commander, Ronald dela Rosa, also served in Davao.
Cascolan’s position as head of operations will go to Mao Aplasca, also from the Davao region.
About 4,100 people have been killed by police in the Philippines since July 2016 in what officers claim were shoot-outs during anti-drug swoops.
At least 2,300 drug-related deaths have also occurred, at the hands of what the police claim were unknown assassins.
Activists say the death toll has been underestimated, and accuse officers of executing suspects and setting up crime scenes. The police deny this and claim the more than 130,000 arrests during the campaign show they follow the law.
Patricia Fox. Picture credit: YouTube