Arroyo Government ‘Watchlist’: Targeting Progressive Foreigners

In February 2007, the BID lifted the “blacklist” but the names of the same 459 foreign nationals remained in its “watchlist.”

A quick look at that “watchlist” would reveal some prominent names, among them are former U.S. Attorney-General Ramsey Clark, writer and academic Michael Chossudovsky of Canada, 2005 Right Livelihood (parallel Nobel prize) Awardee Irene Fernandez of Malaysia (also a juror in the recent Permanent People’s Tribunal [PPT] Second Session on the Philippines), former Norwegian diplomat Oystein Tveter (also a juror in the recent PPT session on the Philippines which found the Bush and Arroyo governments guilty of crimes against the Filipino people), acclaimed novelist Ninotchka Rosca and Rev. Barry Naylor of the Anglican Church in the UK. Rev. Naylor was the spokesperson of the International Solidarity Mission of August 2005 that looked into the spate of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances.

There are at least 30 Europeans in the list, a virtual “who’s who” in solidarity and development work for the Philippines. For instance, one name is a long-time official of a development agency dispensing official development assistance funds to major projects in the Philippines, another is a former European diplomat, still another is a political prisoner in his own country, while another has never even set foot on Philippine soil.

Like many other progressive Filipinos and militants who have denounced and described the list as “nebulous” and “preposterous,” European solidarity activists have been alarmed with the “watchlist” and the incident involving the three U.S. citizens, especially with the implementation of the HSA.

The Nederlands-Filippijnse Solidariteitsbeweging (NFS), the Dutch-Philippine Solidarity group, has described the hold order on the GABNet 3 as “dangerous.”

“We believe that 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,” a recent NFS statement read. Before the HSA, nobody can be held without charges, but with the HSA anybody can be held on mere suspicion.”

“These moves are a part of the anti-terrorist-law, but are mainly justified as such by the government to strike in desperate moves at any one that they feel as a threat to (their) existence or ‘stability.’ The anti-terrorist-law is not designed because of the existence of terrorists, but as an easy tool by the government to strike at any one they don’t like,” stressed Gerard (not his real name), a Belgian solidarity worker based in Manila, whose name is on the government “watchlist.”

According to Gerard, harassing progressive foreigners would be counterproductive for the Arroyo government, since it would only further politically discredit the regime locally and internationally, and barring foreign citizens from leaving the Philippines would force foreign embassies to get involved, as what happened when the U.S. embassy in Manila was forced to intervene in the harassment of its three citizens.

The European solidarity activists have vowed to bring the Arroyo government’s harassment of progressive foreigners to the attention of the international community.

“(As) regards calling the attention of the EU, I think it is also important to call for their sanctions and condemnation in relation to the ongoing political killings and disappearances. We urge the European embassies in Manila to be vigilant and to declare that they are ready to assist any of their constituents who might be harassed at the immigration in Manila,” stressed Daniel, another long-time European solidarity worker. (

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