KARAPTAN’s Appeal For Action
UA Date: July 15, 2015
UA Case: Violation on the Right to Liberty of Movement, including the right to travel; Threats, harassment, or intimidation; Violation on the Right to Freedom of Association, due process, free speech, privacy; Violation of national sovereignty; Violation of the right to self-determination and right to international solidarity
Victim: Liza Largoza Maza,
Former Representative of Gabriela Women’s Party in the 13th and 14th Congress of the House of Representatives, Philippines
Former Representative of Bayan Muna Partylist in the12th Congress of the House of Representatives, Philippines
Co-Chairperson, Makabayan Coalition
Chairperson, International Women’s Alliance
Chairperson Emerita and former Secretary General, Gabriela
Place of incident: Terminal 1, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Date of incident: July 9, 2015
Alleged perpetrator/s: Customs and Border Protection of the US Department of Homeland Security, Korean Air officials
ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:
On July 9, 2015, at about 11:15a.m., while former Rep. Liza Maza and Dr. Efleda Bautista of People’s Surge were on their way to Gate 5 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 to board Korean Air 622 bound for the scheduled 12:20pm flight to the US, Maza was informed by the airline ground staff that she cannot board the plane and that her checked-in luggage will be off-loaded. Maza inquired on the reasons why she was disallowed to board the plane, she was told that there was an email from the Customs Border Protection of the US Department of Homeland Security saying that she cannot board the plane. The staff turned to Dr. Bautista and told her that she can board the plane. Maza asked for a copy of the email and she was told that the staff members were printing it.
Maza was then led to the desk of a Bureau of Immigration officer where she waited for the printed copy of the email. Later, another airline staff told Maza that the airline ground supervisor will come down to talk to her and that she cannot give Maza a copy of the email because it is “not for dissemination to a 3rd party.” At this point, Maza called Atty. Edre Olalia of the National Union of People’s Lawyers to inform him of what happened and to ask for his legal advise. Olalia advised Maza to ask for a valid reason why was disallowed to board the plane and to get a copy of the email. Olalia also talked to the ground staff and the immigration officer on duty at the desk. Maza heard the immigration officer telling the airline staff that they have to give her a letter saying that they were the ones who did not allow her to board the plane because as far as the Bureau of Immigration is concerned, her travel papers are fine and she is allowed to travel.
Later, the ground supervisor of Korean Air, Mr. Luigi Luis Santos, told Maza they can’t give her a copy of the email. Maza and Santos both went to the airline office; Santos he went inside the office. When he came out, he told Maza he cannot give her a copy of the email because “it is not for 3rd party dissemination;” that they only received the email that morning; and that Maza should go to the US embassy and bring all her documents regarding the trip for evaluation.
Maza has a valid 10-year US visa (2008-2018) and she has been going in and out of the US before and after 2008. Her last trip in the US was in 2013.
She was invited by Gabriela chapters in the US to meet with Filipina migrants and immigrants and women’s groups. She was also slated to attend the International People’s Tribunal on the Crimes of the Obama-Aquino regimes, where she is set to give an expert testimony on the gross violations on Philippine sovereignty and on the Filipino people’s rights of the recently signed US-PH Enhanced Defense Agreement (EDCA) as well as on the unequal US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).
Maza is a known feminist and nationalist, from her stint as an activist, parliamentarian, and as a vocal initiator and leader of many alliances upholding the sovereignty of the country. She was also interviewed many times on the Jennifer Laude case, the US role in containing China and its creation and manipulation of tensions in Korea and in the whole of Asia to justify the Asian Pivot, as well as increased US military presence and intervention in the Philippines via EDCA and VFA.
Maza recently participated in a 30-women delegation of renowned women peace activists who crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) bordering North and South Korea last May 24, 2015 as a high-profile symbolic action calling for the reunification of the two Koreas, reunion of families, and participation of women in the peace process, and to highlight women’s contributions in promoting peace in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. This activity dubbed as “Women Cross DMZ” gained international attention, especially in the US, where major media outfits like the CNN, New York Times, etc published and reported on the said event. Among the women in the delegation were Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee, Gloria Steinem, and other feminist activists and artists. In North Korea, together with Gloria Steinem and the two Nobel Peace laureates who were also part of the delegation, Maza read the Women’s Declaration of Unity at a public rally organized by the women’s federation. In South Korea, Maza shared her knowledge and expertise on women’s organizing for peace in the Philippines at the Peace Symposium. The short paper she presented in South Korea was uploaded to a progressive online site in the US.
Maza said it is also possible that she was already flagged by authorities in South Korea, since she was booked in Korean Air. According to Maza, during the trip of the 30-women delegation, South Korea immigration authorities gave flyers to select delegates, “reminding” them to not do anything that will violate the South Korean internal security laws. Maza was however given a five-year visa by the South Korean Embassy in Manila, despite knowledge on the subject of Maza’s recent trip in South Korea.
As the former secretary general of Gabriela, Maza spearheaded several campaigns regarding women’s rights and welfare on issues such as sex trafficking, prostitution, rape and domestic violence, and the impact of liberalization, deregulation and privatization on poor women, among others. She is also principal author/co-author of several landmark legislation for women such as the Anti-Trafficking Against Persons Act, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act, and the Magna Carta of Women.
Since 2011, as chairperson of the International Women’s Alliance, she has spoken in different countries on the US imperialist policies and designs including the Asian Pivot, World Trade Organization (WTO), US Counter Insurgency programs and wars of aggression.
Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
- The US government to stop the violation on the right to liberty of movement and freedom of association; the threats, harassment, or intimidation against former Rep. Liza Maza.
- The US government to stop violating Philippine sovereignty through the continuing extraterritorial and invasive character of its borderless US “war on terror” as exemplified in the case of former Rep. Liza Maza.
- The Philippine government to investigate on these rights violations against Maza as the Philippine government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe, promote and protect all of these instruments’ provisions, as well as to defend the country’s sovereignty as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.
- The accountability of Korean Air officials for the violation of Maza’s right to liberty of movement, and other rights of passengers related to contractual agreements with airline companies.
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