Partisan Political Activity
It is very clear that foreigners are prohibited from engaging in any kind of political activism. Yet we regularly read about people being deported for just that kind of activity.
I am not talking here about the semi professional activists of all political hues, that have become part of the political scene worldwide. Those who purposefully come to the Philippines to protest a particular position taken by the government. They either move on before they are apprehended or who expect to be caught and deported, martyrs for that particular cause. Imagine how they will tell the story to their children and grandchildren. The story of when they stood up to the Philippine government and the price they paid.
It’s not them that this post is about.
I am referring to the long term visitors. Expats who have chosen to live here permanently by one path or another. Those with a wife and children. Those who love being in the Philippines. Those who think it is ok to be critical, because “we live here and our families are affected by….”.
What is Partisan Political Activity
Listening to the chatter on many expat sites I think the problem is that people do not understand the term partisan.
The dictionary definition of partisan is engaging in any activity that shows your opposition or support for a political party, group, ideology or movemewnt.
That can be by financial, administrative or encouraging actions.
So supporting Duterte or not supporting him are both partisan. Attending rallies, giving testimonials, making contributions, doing the books, writing flyers, making pro or anti government statements, are no-no’s.
It basically means that our involvement in the Philippines political process is to be zero.
We are welcome, in fact often encouraged to address the needs of Filipino people. They are many; 25% of Filipinos live below the poverty line. In rural areas only 52% of secondary students attend school compared with 72% in urban areas. Girls leave school early largely to have babies and get married, while boys leave to support their families financially So we can recognise and respond to the problems but to assign blame or praise the actions of politicians or their parties is forbidden.
Some of you may point out that the policy is not policed evenly. That foreigners have been the friends and political confidantes of Filipino politicians since independence. That they have been seen in the audiences of all political camps during election campaigns. All that is probably true. That may be a practice, but it is not the law under which we live here and as numbers of us are finding out the law is what counts.
The Philippines Restricts Free Speech
There is one other argument that rears its head from time to time. The Philippines is much more restrictive about the rights of foreigners, that the rest of the world. Easy to fall into that trap. However it just is not true. Every country in the world has laws of sovereignty. These entitle them to restrict the ability of outsiders to influence citizens read here. The Philippines, just as every other country in the world has laws in place to stop outsiders influencing the internal politics of the country. Sorry nut it’s true.
If you wish to live here without fear of becoming embroiled in accusations of partisan political activity, keep your own counsel at all times on all media platforms.