Saturday, August 11, 2007

Fil-Am activist barred from returning to US

Fil-Am activist barred from returning to US
Posted August 10, 2007, 6:41 pm

Members of progressive women's organizations in the US are outraged over the Philippine government's move to prevent an activist Filipino-American professor from leaving Manila where she attended a conference.

Dr. Annalisa Enrile, assistant clinical professor at the University of Southern California's School of Social Work and national chair of Gabriela Network (GABNet) USA, was barred from boarding her return flight to Los Angeles on Aug. 5 purportedly because her name was on the Bureau of Immigration's "hold-departure order" list.

Enrile, a US citizen, came to the Philippines for the 10th bi-annual Women's International Solidarity Affair held in Manila last week. The conference drew hundreds of women from all over the globe and covered issues such as sex trafficking and other international human rights violations.

GABNet secretary general Doris Mendoza said Enrile chaperoned a delegation of USC Masters students who attended the conference and visited local non-governmental organizations.

In a statement, she said officials at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) advised Enrile to report the Bureau of Immigration.

Enrile was supposedly placed on the BI "watch list" on July 25. Gabriela believes this was still an enforcement of the Arroyo government's policy adopted late last year to limit protest actions timed for the 12th Leaders' Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Cebu last January.

GABNet said its other leaders Judith Mirkinson and writer-novelist Ninotchka Rosca are on the same "watch list." Mirkinson and Rosca also attended the women's forum.

"This is undoubtedly a scare tactic by the Philippine government to intimidate women's
international solidarity with Filipina women and their struggles," Mendoza said.

Pinay sa Seattle, a group of progressive Filipinos in Seattle, Washington State, said the barring of Enrile could be related to the government's anti-terror policy.

"Although the Philippine government had assured the international community that the watch list would be lifted following the ASEAN Summit, internationally-based progressives are still being targeted as part of the Philippine's collusion with the War on Terror," Donna Denina, vice chair of Pinay sa Seattle.

"This is a time of grave concern due to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines and the recent passage of the Human Security Act, commonly referred to as the Anti-Terror Bill. This law prohibits freedom of assembly and curtails the right to openly criticize and organize against injustices committed by the Philippine government. It restricts due process of law and is likely to be used in the Philippine government's campaign against progressive organizations," Denina noted.

After a meeting on Thursday with US Embassy officers in Manila, Enrile was advised to secure a clearance from Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, Cesar Garcia of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and Armed Forces Chief Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr, who all happen to compose the Anti-Terrorism Council tasked to implement the anti-terror law.

Because of the concerns, the progressive leaders have alerted their networks all over the United States and around the globe about Enrile's experience at the NAIA.

"The Philippine Human Security Act 2007 is in full effect and impacting visitors to the Philippines who are doing genuine international solidarity work," said Pinay sa Seattle in its advisory.

Other progressive women's groups like Babae-San Francisco and Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment-NY, member organizations of BAYAN-USA have also denounced the travel ban on Enrile.

Gabriela Women's Party has organized a press conference on Saturday, August 11, in Quezon City for Enrile to talk about her experience at the airport on her way back to the US. - GMANews.TV