Dispatch from Crame No. 291: Sen. Leila M. de Lima’s Statement on the BI’s Deportation of Sr. Patricia Fox


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The deportation of Sr. Patricia Fox, a human rights defender who lawfully entered and stayed in our country under a missionary visa, says a lot about the state of democracy in our country.

It is clear that, as things are currently being run, the Rule of law bows to the will of a tyrant.

But, more than that, it exposes how this Administration is systematically doing its best to insulate us from the outside world, especially those who have enough malasakit for our countrymen to come in our defense when we are being oppressed by our own government. It clearly shows the bias of this Administration against foreigners who defend human rights, and in favor of foreigners who care nothing for it.

It won’t be long until we will be no different from the people of other nations who are so used to being the victims of repression in their own countries, they would not recognize abuse in others, let alone have the inclination or means to fight against it.

They want us to become a country of lost sheep, so they are getting rid of those who are simply doing their missionary’s work of guiding us towards good and away from evil.

It is also clear that such an act is just another step towards ensuring the impunity with which this Administration tramples on people’s rights. It is too easy to predict that this is the precedent that they are setting in order to blacklist, deny entry to and/or order the deportation of representatives or agents of international human rights bodies, such as the ICC, whom Duterte deems a threat to his tyrannical rule.

The old man is so scared of his own shadow, he lashes out at a nun who is doing nothing but nurturing his people.

The noose around our collective heads are getting tighter and tighter. With the persecution of Filipino human rights defenders, our isolation from foreign human rights defenders, and the attacks on the independence of government institutions, the legs of the table we are standing on are being chopped off one-by-one. The moment that the table topples over, we are lost.

We must fight to escape the stranglehold that this Administration continues to hold us under.

We must defend ourselves by defending our defenders. Otherwise, we will find that it is too late. To paraphrase a known quote from an outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler:

First they came for the poor and defenseless, and I did not speak out—Because I was not whom they were targeting.

Then they persecuted and silenced the political opposition, and I did not speak out—Because I am but an ordinary citizen who knows nothing of politics and affairs of the state.

Then they came for the human rights defenders, local and foreign, and I did not speak out—Because if the defenders are powerless to defend themselves, who am I to even try.

Then they came for me, my family, my community and my nation—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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