MALACAÑANG on Tuesday, December 10, criticized a Filipino couple for using President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights record as a reason to seek political asylum in the United States.
Last week, Rene Flores and his wife Joy were granted asylum by a San Francisco immigration judge after claiming that they might experience political persecution from the government if ordered to return to the Philippines.
The couple sought help from immigration lawyer Ted Laguatan, who said the rulings affirmed that many American officials are already aware of what he described as the “extensive human rights violations” of Duterte.
The couple, who flew to the U.S. in 2000 to visit relatives, participated in U.S. protests against Duterte for the alleged extrajudicial killings and the war on drugs in the Philippines.
However, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang “have never heard of Rene and Joy Flores being political activists in the Philippines.”
“We consider the application of the Flores couple highly doubtful. Their attendance to political rallies and issuance of anti-Duterte statements while in the U.S. are more of a stratagem of their lawyer for them to stay permanently in the U.S. and to shield them from being deported. Apparently, they have opted for an easy way out at the expense of the Duterte administration,” he said.
According to the spokesman, the Flores couple “have been illegally overstaying in the U.S.”
“The ignorant granting of the judge of their application would, therefore, set a dangerous precedent to other illegal aliens who can abusively use politics as a scapegoat in violating immigration laws of the United States,” Panelo noted.
He assured that no citizen of the Philippines has been charged in court nor clamped in jail by reason of criticism against the policies of the present government.
“If they happen to be critics and they presently face criminal charges, it is because both the administrative and judicial officers found probable cause for certain infringement of laws and for which by law should be properly charged,” Panelo said.
“Their being critics have absolutely nothing to with their criminal prosecution. They can not hide behind the mantle of the freedom of the press and of speech when they are found violating the laws of the land. This circumstance alone casts doubt on the scheme employed by the Floreses,” he added.
Panelo also stressed that the Duterte administration does not resort to any form of persecution and welcomes criticisms as long as they are based on facts and not on rumors or fake information. (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)