Foreigners living in the Philippines have to follow quarantine laws or else face deportation, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said today in a statement.
The BI’s warning came after a Spanish national named Javier Salvador Parra was caught in a viral video cursing at a police officer while he was standing in front of his home in Dasmariñas Village, Makati City. Parra became incensed after reportedly learning that he needed to pay a PHP1,000 (US$20) fine to the authorities because his domestic worker was caught without a face mask on, a violation of a city ordinance.
The confrontation between the cop and the Spanish national escalated, and the former manhandled Parra but stopped only after he was told that he could not make any arrests without having a warrant.
Parra’s case comes a week after Taguig City cops trespassed a condominium and threatened its expat residents with arrest because they allegedly violated social distancing rules.
In its statement, the BI told foreign nationals that “they are not exempted from the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) protocols in the midst of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.”
“The ECQ guidelines were placed to promote public health and safety among members of society. That means everyone, including foreign nationals. Aliens who disregard the law may face deportation,” BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
Morente cited Section 6 of the Bayanihan (“Camaraderie”) To Heal As One Act, which stipulates that foreigners who break the law will be deported from the Philippines.
“Aliens who blatantly disregard our laws, especially during this critical period, not only face criminal charges but also immigration deportation cases as well,” Morente said and added that deported foreigners will be perpetually barred from returning to the country.
“This is not just about the utter disrespect towards our laws. It is more importantly about putting everybody else’s health at risk,” he said.
The BI is currently investigating the Makati incident and checking the immigration status of Parra, its spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said in an interview with radio station DZBB.
Meanwhile, international non-profit organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) told the Duterte government to “immediately rein in out of control law enforcers and public officials” who enforce the country’s draconian quarantine laws.
“Even before the incident in Dasmarinas Village, Makati City, there has been an increasing number of incidents in which police and government personnel abused their powers by committing rights violations,” said HRW’s Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson in a statement.
He added that the Department of Interior and Local Government should “exercise effective oversight” over the police and investigate all complaints of human rights abuses.
“The lockdown and quarantine, and even the emergency powers bestowed on President [Rodrigo] Duterte, do not excuse the actions of officials to wantonly violate international human rights norms and the Philippine Constitution, which specifically protects citizens from unreasonable searches and arrests,” he added.
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