Palace hits Filipino couple for using Duterte in asylum case
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday censured a Filipino couple in the United States for using President Rodrigo Duterte as their scapegoat in seeking political asylum.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang found it “amusing that an immigration judge from San Francisco, USA, granted political asylum to Rene and Joy Flores.
The Flores couple, who went to the United States in 2000 to visit relatives, sought political asylum in the U.S. for fear of persecution from the government if they are sent back to the Philippines.
The couple asked the help of immigration lawyer Ted Laguatan after U.S. President Donald Trump’s tightened rules on undocumented immigrants.
The couple has joined protests in the US against Duterte for the alleged extrajudicial killings and the war on drugs in the Philippines.
But Panelo said Malacañang “have never heard of Rene and Joy Flores being political activists in the Philippines.”
Quoting the Philippine press, he said, “the Flores couple went to the United States in 2000 for sightseeing, and upon the suggestion of relatives, decided to seek greener pastures therein during the presidency of Joseph Estrada.”
“We consider the application of the Flores couple highly doubtful. Their attendance to political rallies and issuance of anti-Duterte statements while in the U.S. are more of a stratagem of their lawyer for them to stay permanently in the U.S. and to shield them from being deported. Apparently, they have opted for an easy way out at the expense of the Duterte administration,” Panelo said.
The Flores couple, he said, “have been illegally overstaying in the U.S.”
“The ignorant granting of the judge of their application would, therefore, set a dangerous precedent to other illegal aliens who can abusively use politics as a scapegoat in violating immigration laws of the United States,” he said.
Panelo added that “the Office of the President reiterates that this administration does not resort to any form of persecution and welcomes criticisms as long as they are based on facts and not on rumors or fake information.”
“No citizen of this country has been charged in court nor clamped in jail by reason of criticism against the policies of the present government,” he said.
“If they happen to be critics and they presently face criminal charges,” the Palace official said, “it is because both the administrative and judicial officers found probable cause for certain infringement of laws and for which by law should be properly charged.”
“Their being critics have absolutely nothing to with their criminal prosecution. They can not hide behind the mantle of the freedom of the press and of speech when they are found violating the laws of the land,” he added. “This circumstance alone casts doubt on the scheme employed by the Floreses.”
Edited by MUF
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