By RAYMUND VILLANUEVA
(UPDATED) MANILA — A prominent Mindanao activist is being held by US immigration authorities at the San Francisco International Airport, various human rights organizations and individuals said.
Sandugo – Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination vice-chairperson Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba has been denied entry to the US and is being held at the airport, the alerts said.
Aba is scheduled for deportation back to the Philippines Wednesday night, April 18, US time, the alerts added.
US immigration authorities have not released the basis for the denial of entry against the Filipino activist.
Fellow Moro advocate Amirah Ali Lidasan said Aba’s travel papers are in order, including a 10-year multiple entry visa to the US.
Lidasan added that no lawyer has been allowed to see Aba even after 15 hours of detention and they do not know if he has been treated well and fed.
A well-known critic of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s war in Marawi and elsewhere the Philippines, Aba was invited to the US by several church institutions, including the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Sisters of Mercy, and the General Board of Global Ministries-United Methodist Church to serve as a resource speaker at their respective events.
Aba was to speak on the human rights situation in the Philippines under the Duterte government during the Sixteenth National Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD) for Global Peace with Justice in Washington D.C. on April 20 to 23.
The EAD is an annual national gathering of churches on peace and social justice issues that includes lobbying visits to Capitol Hill.
He was also scheduled to go on a speaking tour elsewhere in the US to campaign for a stop to the killings in the Philippines sponsored by the US Chapter of International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.
Filipino-Americans and other supporters including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-USA have picketed the airport to demand Aba’s release and for him to be allowed entry to the US.
UPDATE: Jerome Succor Aba was eventually deported back to the Philippines after more than 22 hours of detention by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the San Francisco Airport. According to the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-US, CBP said that Aba was denied entry to the US “because of a so-called technical glitch on his visa.”