BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Vol. VII, No. 27, August 12-18, 2007
Balikbayan Dr. Annalisa Vicente Enrile was on her way back to the U.S. on Aug. 5 after a month’s stay in the Philippines. However, as she proceeded to the Immigration booth to have her passport exit-stamped, she was told that she could not get on the plane because she was on the “watchlist.”
Enrile is the chairperson of GABRIELA Network USA (GABNet), a U.S.-based women’s group affiliated with the militant women’s group GABRIELA and the progressive partylist group Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP). She is also a professor at the University of Southern California.
In a press conference Aug. 11in Quezon City, Enrile said she believes she is being held because of her involvement with GABRIELA and for being part of a team that went to the country to probe the human rights record of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
“I’m being held hostage,” Enrile told the media. “I cannot go back to my work and my family.”
After being told that she could not proceed to board her flight, Enrile said she was “sent and shuffled from one department to another.”
At the Immigration, she was told to get clearance from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID).
On Aug. 6 at the BID, Enrile was told to file an Affidavit of Denial.
On Aug. 7, the BID told Enrile to get clearance from the Department of Justice (DoJ). At the DoJ, she was told to get another clearance from the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). But at the NICA, she was directed to return to the BID.
On Aug. 8 at the BID, Enrile was redirected to the DoJ.
Enrile then sought the assistance of the Chief of American Citizens Service (CACS) at the U.S. Embassy who committed to help her.
The CACS gave the same message to American human rights activist and GABNet International Relations Officer Judith Mirkinson who went with Enrile at the embassy. Enrile, Mirkinson and renowned international journalist Ninotchka Rosca are said to have been in the government’s watchlist.
Rosca said the watchlist is an “intimidation tactic” by the Philippine government against “all overseas Filipinos who continue to love and fight for this country.”
“I am exceedingly irritated with the watchlist which has infringed into my private time with my family,” Rosca said. Rosca said she is here to attend the Women’s International Solidarity Affair in the Philippines which was held from July 30 to August 5, 2007, to launch her latest book and to visit her 98-year old mother.
Meanwhile, GWP Rep. Liza Maza said the hold order against the three women activists is a serious matter which can be a precedent to gauge the effectivity of the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA 2007), the newly passed anti-terror law.
“Before the HSA, nobody cannot be held without charges,” Maza explained. But with the HSA, Maza said anybody can be held on mere suspicion. “This makes this incident dangerous,” she added.
“This is pure political harassment undermining GABRIELA’s international work,” the partylist representative said. GWP, which was able to land two seats in the House of Representatives, topped the partylist votes of absentee voter’s in the 2007 mid-term elections.
Rosca and Mirkinson are scheduled to leave the country on Aug. 14. “We hope not to be held at the airport and we’ll make sure Dr. Enrile is coming with us,” Rosca said. (Bulatlat.com)