Deportation of Europe-based progressive Pinoy youth leader slammed

Press Statement
08 December 2023

Migrante-International vehemently condemns the almost two-hour detention and subsequent deportation of Edna Becher, a leader of progressive youth organization Anakbayan’s chapter in Europe and a Swiss passport holder, by Philippine immigration authorities on December 7. 

We hold the Philippine Bureau of Immigration and the Bongbong Marcos Jr government responsible for Edna’s detention and deportation, and reject the reason they cited for their actions — that she has been blacklisted by the Philippine government for her involvement in anti-government activities.

Edna is among Filipino youths who either were born abroad or are living abroad, whose hearts beat for the Filipino people, who want to find out the real socio-economic conditions in the Philippines, and who participate in social movements to effect change in the country.

The activism of youths like Edna would be encouraged by a democratic government. Despite its efforts to rebrand the Marcos name, the Marcos Jr regime is imitating the Marcos Sr in dictatorially blocking the Filipino youth’s desire to contribute to genuine development and democracy in the Philippines.

In recent years, the Philippine government has been blacklisting Filipino activists who carry foreign passports, as well as foreign activists, and preventing them from entering the country. This practice is a violation of the human rights of those activists and is a form of repression of the dissent and criticism that the Filipino people badly need precisely because of worsening socio-economic conditions.

What the Philippine government does to Filipino activists who carry foreign passports and foreign activists is an indication of how it treats Filipino activists who hold Philippine passports and live in the Philippines. Its blacklisting, detention and deportation of the first goes hand-in-hand with its harassment, abduction, jailing and even killing of the second. It also does not bode well for Filipino migrant activists who hold Philippine passports.

Edna’s detention and deportation is therefore symptomatic of the continuing human rights crisis in the Philippines. It shows that the repressive policies of the Rodrigo Duterte regime and previous regimes are being continued, even intensified, by the Marcos Jr regime — despite its pretensions of distancing itself from, or even criticizing, Duterte’s policies.

Edna’s detention and deportation shows that the Marcos Jr government has not learned the lessons of history. One of these is that no amount of government repression can silence Filipino youths and migrants who will persevere in their activism and fight back against, even oust, repressive regimes.###