The case of Australian nun Patricia Fox who was detained by Bureau of Immigration authorities continues to draw flak from human rights groups. The nun who calls the Philippines her second home after living here for 20 years was questioned and detained at the BI offices upon her return from Australia. Although she was later released, her case has fanned controversy among groups who are getting concerned over the Duterte administration’s apparent crackdown on critics.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution condemning the Philippine government crackdown on critics. The EU resolution was hailed by the international Human Rights Watch after Philippine immigration authorities also deported Socialist Party Deputy Secretary General Giacomo Fillibeck for criticizing Duterte’s war on drugs and the alleged extra judicial killing of suspects.
“It has now become criminal to criticize the President and his policies,” said one lawyer succinctly.
Sister Fox denied being involved in partisan politics in the Philippines. The nun said she had only attended events that called for poverty alleviation and health care for the poor. Malacanang, however, claimed it has photos of Sister Fox speaking at a protest rally in Davao. So okay, she has been photographed speaking at a rally. The Palace should have also presented an audio recording of what the nun actually said. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, a lawyer, should know that is the rules of evidence in a case like this.
Strangely, the Australian government has been silent on Manila’s mistreatment of one of its nationals. Roque defended the government’s action on the Australian nun. He said the country has the right to protect its sovereignty against foreigners engaging in partisan politics. How about also defending Philippine sovereignty against blatant violations of the country’s territorial waters against Chinese aggression? The Chinese navy and planes have been spotted constantly hovering in the West Philippine Sea and airspace. So, Harry, why not also give the bully Chinese hell?
On another front, workers are demanding that President Duterte sign an executive order ending contractualization—known as “endo” or end of contract. This has been going on for decades with workers deprived of security of tenure as business establishments source their employees from recruitment agencies. The onerous practice of hiring employees from the manning agencies spares the business establishments from dealing with labor unions, paying employee-prescribed benefits such as bonuses, retirement and separation pay, and remitting their share of employees’ Social Security System contributions.
After waiting for what they thought would be a Labor Day gift on May 1, the working class was disappointed when Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the President sent the endo issue to the House to handle since there are features in a Senate bill ensuring the security tenure of workers.
In our column last Friday, we wrote about former Senator Jinggoy Estrada’s fake story that he was being invited to speak before a Filipino group in New York. In his bid to travel from April 30 to May 30, Estrada claimed in his petition to the Sandiganbayan that he was invited as guest speaker of the Pinoy Good Governance organization headed by Fil-Am businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis.
Lewis was surprised and aghast. Why would her group invite someone facing plunder charges in connection with the Priority Development Assistance Fund, or pork barrel? Because of Lewis’ disclaimer, government prosecutors have asked the Ombudsman to cite Jinggoy for contempt of court.
Lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, chief complainant in the impeachment case against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, now finds himself in a disbarment proceeding. Larry Gadon is the subject of disbarment because he flashed his middle finger at a crowd of Sereno supporters.
Lawyers are under oath to display the best public decorum and should not allow themselves to be provoked, even in the most trying circumstances.
In another incident, Gadon also exchanged invectives with a hostile crowd that had gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Padre Faura. Gadon justified his use of expletives by claiming some of the protesters were the first to call him names.