For Immediate Release 7 November 2010

Statement of Condemnation of the South Korean Government’s detention and deportation of 6 Filipino Activists

Rep. Walden Bello, Akbayan (Citizens Action Party)

This representation condemns in the strongest terms the South Korean Government’s baseless decision to prohibit six Filipino activists, namely Josua Mata of Alliance of Progressive Labor, Joseph Purugganan of Focus on the Global South, Maria Lorena Macabuag of Migrant Forum Asia, musician/poet and Asian Public Intellectual Fellow Jess Santiago, Rogelio Soluta of the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Paul Quinto of Ibon Philippines, from entering South Korea and participating in the Seoul International People’s Conference organized by Put People First! Korean People’s G20 Response Action network.

Despite the fact that the said activists carried visas and other necessary documents to gain entry into South Korea, they were detained at the immigration office without any clear reason, and were refused the right to be represented by an officer from the Philippine Embassy in Korea. They had also been forcibly taken from the detention area to be deported back to the Philippines. Without providing any more reason for the detention and deportation, than saying the said activists were blacklisted, clearly, the government of South Korea’s use of force is unwarranted and excessive.

It is despicable for the South Korean government to bar Filipino civil society advocates from participating in the people’s summit on the G20. These activists came to South Korea with the intention of forwarding the real interest of the peoples from the developing world, interests that are often neglected in closed-door negotiations of the technocrats in the G20. More than the finance and banking officials at the G20 summit, these activists are the real representatives of the peoples of developing nations, the real representatives of the peoples from the grassroots whose lives and livelihood are most vulnerable to the G20’s economic decision-making. By suppressing the voices of the peoples from the global south, the South Korean government clearly proves that it does not represent the interests and welfare of the peoples of developing nations.

We cannot turn a blind eye to the South Korean government’s act of repression against Filipino nationals.  This arbitrary act manifests a lack of respect for the Philippine government and the Filipino nation. 

This representation thus urges the Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo to formally file a diplomatic protest against the South Korean government and demand an explanation for the use of unwarranted force against the six Filipino activists. 

We also urge the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation to ban the entry of Korean citizens into the Philippines until the Korean government apologizes and allows the banned activists to enter Korea.