The Philippines/Australia: Elderly Aussie prof says no basis to bar him from entering PHL

August 13, 2018

The elderly Australian professor held for days at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Monday said the Philippine government has no basis to ban his entry to the country.

Gill Boehringer, 84, denied he attended a protest rally in 2015, the charge maintained by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in ordering him sent back to Guangzhou, China, his port of origin, once medically cleared for flight.

The professor, who is married to a Filipina, added that he did not join a rally in 2015, explaining instead that he went on an educational trip to a primary school for indigenous (lumad) children in the forested mountains of the Caraga region.

“I believe there is no basis for my exclusion from the Philippines in what was an educational experience for myself, the others who traveled with me into the mountain district, and also, I like to think, for those we met with there,” he said in a statement forwarded to the media by human rights watchdog Karapatan.

Boehringer arrived in the Philippines last Wednesday and has been under airline custody since, having been refused entry due to his inclusion in the government blacklist for allegedly joining a rally —  a prohibited act for foreigners as per BI rules — in November 2015.

The BI turned down his lawyers’ request to lift the exclusion order against him even despite concerns over his health.

A check with the BI revealed he is still at the NAIA.–spt.html



Statement of Gill Boehringer

Although I have had no formal notification from the Bureau of Immigration as to the basis for my exclusion from the Philippines, I wish to respond to the reports circulating in the media. It is alleged by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) that I am associated with “Communist Terror Groups”. That is preposterous. It seems that in the Philippines today almost anyone can be labelled a terrorist or in association with terrorists. I deny the accusation. I certainly am not a supporter of terrorism from whatever source.

It is further alleged that I attended a rally against an APEC meeting in November, 2015.Tthe legality, or not, of attending such a rally is a vexed question at the present time. I will not enter that debate at this point. What I will say is that I did not attend that rally. The charge is false.

A further allegation is that I attended a rally in February, 2018. This is also false. There was no rally or political activity. There was a trip to the forested mountains of the Caraga region, Mindanao to observe the educational activities at a primary school for indigenous (lumad) children run by the Triba lFilipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS). Amongst my special interests in teaching and research as an academic are the processes of educations, which I previously lectured in at the Open University, U.K., and the circumstances of indigenous people and their environmental custody of the land in my own country, in the Philippines and elsewhere. We did observe the interaction between the lumad students and the staff of the TRIFPSS school in and out of the classroom. We were able to exchange views with the school staff, the students and the community that supports the school.

I believe there is no basis for my exclusion from the Philippines in what was an educational experience for myself, the others who travelled with me into the mountain district, and also, I like to think, for those we met with there.

I have instructed my lawyers to contest all allegations against me, and to seek the lifting of the “blacklist{“, the “watchlist” and the exclusion order.

I would ask the government to recognize me as a person who has visited the country over many years with no subversive intent. I have sought in an intellectual way, through public dialogue, to aid in the maintenance of the rule of law and the structures and processes of democracy. It is true that as an individual-a Devil’s Advocate perhaps- I have been a critic of some of the policies and practices of three successive governments since coming to the Philippines as an International Election Observer in 2007 and 2010. Are those the activities of a terrorist? Surely not. Rather they might more appropriately be considered an attempt to make a rational contribution within the vibrant national discourse about how democracy can be strengthened, the rule of law protected and social justice ensured.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to all those who have responded to my plight around the globe. I am especially grateful for the support I have had from many individuals and organizations in the Philippines who have taken action to protect my legal rights, including my medical safety.

(Facebook, 13/8/18)

Letter of Prof Boehringer to Australian Supporters

Greetings to my supporters in Australia. Many thanks for your steadfast work on my behalf and thereby the rule of law and democracy in the Philippines, especially for our friends the lumad of Mindanao. Right now Congressman Karlos Zarate is visiting with me and trying to persuade the Bureau of Immigration to allow my wife to visit me. It is like pulling teeth…

My condition is ok, I am also waiting for the Bureau – which claims I am not in detention – to agree to a medical assessment outside the airport. That assessment was made by my doctor from Health Action for Human Rights, as well as the doctor at the airport health office. The representative of the Australian Embassy is doing a first rate job in pursuing the matter despite the bureaucratic complexity of dealing with China Southern Airline, the NAIA and the Bureau.

I am actually doing “easy time” compared to the thousands locked up in appalling conditions around the country and who face serious consequences in such circumstances. I have read the disturbing editorial in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, “Unrelenting Impunity” (12/8/18) about “deaths in custody” which of course will be familiar to Australians as a result of the high rate of Aboriginal deaths in our prisons and other detention facilities.

Such deaths are the acts that threaten public order and the stability of governments and a peaceful civil society. Not mine. Mabuhay!

(Facebook, 13/8/18)

COLAP Calls on the Philippine Government to Lift the Immigration Ban Against Prof. Gil Boehringer and Allow his Entry for Medical and Humanitarian Reasons

The Confederation of Lawyers in Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) is deeply concerned with the detention of ailing human rights lawyer Prof. Gil Boehringer by Philippine immigration authorities and the refusal to take him to a hospital for medical attention. Boehringer, an 84 year old Australian-American lawyer is detained at the airport and refused entry in to the Philippines. He must be allowed immediate entry into the Philippines for medical attention on humanitarian grounds. He must be allowed to join his Filipina wife.

Boehringer, arrived in the Philippines at NAIA Terminal I on August 7, 2018. He sought to be allowed entry to the country for medical reasons and to see his wife. He was told that he is on the immigration blacklist. Today, the 11th of August, he is still detained at the immigration area in the NAIA airport and the NUPL lawyer and his Filipina wife were not given passes to visit him.

COLAP condemns the denial of legal counsel and the immigration ban against Boehringer, purportedly due to his participation in a local demonstration in 2015. Being a regional confederation of human rights lawyers, COLAP believes that the right to free speech is a universal right of all human beings regardless of nationality or citizenship. Boehringer, is a known human rights lawyer and advocate of the rights of indigenous people, coming himself from Australia where there are serious violations of the rights of the aborigines. His advocacy for the rights of the Lumads in the Philippines and for other victims of human rights deserve commendation and not harassment by the Philippine authorities.

COLAP joins hands with Prof Gil Boehringer, a fellow lawyer and defender of human rights. COLAP also demands the immediate referral of Boehringer to an appropriate facility, and his free access to counsel and due process. Finally, COLAP calls on the government to lift the immigration blacklist against human rights defenders of all and any nationality.#

Jitendra Sharma – Indian Association of Lawyers (IALNC) COLAP President

Neri J. Colmenares – National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), Philippines Vice President

Jun Sasamoto – Japanese Lawyers Association (JALISA) COLAP Secretary General

August 13, 2018

(Facebook, 13/8/18)

The bureau of immigration here in the Philippines has just ordered China Southern airlines to board me on the 1735 flight to Guanzhou. Without a medical assessment that I am fit to travel. The Bureau has apparently issued a media release that it has allowed me to have all medical assistance needed. In fact both doctors-my own and the airport doctors- have certified that they were unable to determine if i was fit to travel. We all agree that my “vital signs” are normal. But what only the bureau fails to understand (or care about) is that you cannot predict that a person is fit to travel and not in danger from a deep vein thrombosis-which i have previously suffered-and nearly died from with a blood clot in my lung. Combined with other medical issues relevant to the unknown fitness and the advisability of having a proper assessment and therapy recommended what ever that might be, it seems tome that the bureau is putting my life at risk. amazing what some people will do, no doubt under orders…My lawyers are attempting to get the Bureau and/or the airline (which will be violating international law and my basic human right to travel safely etc) to do the right and just thing, the rational, logical thing:let me see a doctor in a facility outside the airport for an assessment and treatment that could make the difference!

(Facebook, 13/8/18)

Update on the status of Prof. Gill Boehringer, as of 6pm, August 13, 2018:

For almost a week now, Prof. Gill Boehringer, a retired law dean and an active human rights defender, is still being held at the NAIA Terminal 1 in Pasay City. He is under the custody of the airline company which is set to take him anytime soon to Guangzhou, China for a connecting flight to Sydney. The airline refused to board him after receiving a medical certificate from Prof. Boehringer’s physician, Dr. Geneve R. Reyes. Dr. Reyes explicitly stated that he is unfit to travel, with strong recommendation that a specialist further examine Prof. Boehringer in a hospital with the appropriate medical equipment. The Bureau of Immigration has denied the requests of his legal counsels from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) to allow the entry of Prof. Boehringer in the country on medical and humanitarian grounds. The BI has already ordered the airline company to implement the “exclusion order.” Late this afternoon, after much bureaucratic pingpong, the wife of the ailing 84-year old human rights defender is finally given a access pass to his holding place at the NAIA

(Karlos Ysagani Zarate Facebook, 13/8/18)


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