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Thursday, December 8, 2016
Missionary priest deported from Philippines
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 "You're blacklisted," an official told Catholic priest Frank Nally at the immigration desk in Manila airport on Sunday, 5 January. He explained to the surprised Columban missionary, who had previously worked in the Philippines for many years, that for the first time ever he would not be admitted into the country and would be detained overnight in the transit area of the airport. Frank Nally, 52, a member of the Columban's Faith and Justice team, had flown to Manila to prepare the relMase of a report on the impact of the activities of foreign mining companies on the Philippine environment and communities to be launched in London and Manila on 25 January. He was part of a fact-finding mission that visited mining areas of the Philippines in July 2006 to gain first-hand information on the situation. British Member of Parliament, Clare Short, was also part of the mission, which took the initiative in response to an appeal from the Philippine Catholic bishops for international assistance in their struggle against large-scale mining. The 62-page report, covers legal, environmental and political issues and gives a number of recommendations. The stunned priest said he was not given any reason for his blacklisting, but did notice a notation "NICA" (National Intelligence Coordinating Agency) on the immigration officer's computer screen. Frank Nally, an Irish citizen currently based in London, said that Philippine authorities confiscated his passport and kept guard on him overnight. He was finally escorted onto an 8am Hong Kong-bound flight on 6 January, but his passport was given to airline staff to deliver to Hong Kong authorities. He was interviewed by the Hong Kong immigration. "I could not tell them the reason I was deported as no one told me," he said. "However, I did say that I could only surmise that my involvement in the fact-finding mission and the upcoming release of the report may have had something to do with it." A Philippine senator, Nene Pimentel, says he was non-plussed as to why the government would bar the priest. He has told Frank Nally by telephone that he will try and get more information on why he has been deported. In recent years there have been reports of increasing human rights abuses in the Philippines, which have been documented by organisations such as Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches. The response of the government appears to be to blacklist human rights and environmental activists. On 6 December 2006 American Human Rights Lawyer Brian Campbell was also barred from entering the Philippines. He said at that time: "what is clear is that rule of law and freedom of speech is suffering in the Philippines today". A blog of the fact-finding trip can be found at www.philippinesfactfinding.blogspot.com The Missionary Society of St Columban, with headquarters in Ireland, has 575 priests of ten nationalities ministering in 14 countries. Source: Columbans
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