Palace: Foreigners cannot engage in political activity

Malacañang on Thursday, April 19, stressed that foreigners are prohibited by law to engage in any political activity in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. in a Palace press briefing mentioned this prohibition in relation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order to conduct a probe against Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox.

Roque said the Australian national is now under preliminary investigation, which would determine if she should be subjected to deportation proceedings.

The President’s Spokesperson further stated that President Duterte’s directive for the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to probe Sister Fox is in accordance with the country’s law disallowing foreign nationals to participate in any political activity in the Philippines.

“Malinaw po ang ating batas. Those in the Philippines are here because of our consent for them to be here. But they are not allowed to engage in any political activity,” he stated.

Roque likewise underscored that there was no crackdown on foreigners who are critical of the Duterte administration.

“Hindi po ‘yan crackdown. Talaga pong ‘yan ang batas,” he said, adding that even foreigners protesting in support of the administration would be subjected to the same immigration order.

This has not been the first time a foreign national was detained in the country over similar issues, Roque stressed.

In 2013, a Dutch activist was arrested by government authorities after he got caught in photos taunting a crying policeman during a protest against President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address.

Fox herself was also previously detained by immigration authorities in 2013 for reportedly participating in a farmers’ protest in Hacienda Luisita, Roque cited.

IMF World Economic Outlook Report

Meanwhile, Malacañang welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) recent World Economic Outlook report, which named the Philippines as the fastest growing economy among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the second fastest in the world after India.

The Philippines, with a 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) of 6.7 percent, is projected to reach a GDP growth rate of 6.8 percent in 2019, Secretary Roque said citing the IMF.

The Spokesperson stressed that the report is a testament to the country’s strong macroeconomic fundamentals, adding that the passage of critical socio-economic and governance reforms would further strengthen our fiscal position and boost both public and private investments.

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