Last week, four scantily clad members of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a mini-demonstration in front of Manila Zoo, bearing placards which read, "Have a Heart, Boycott the Zoo."
Here's a snippet of a news report by ABS-CBN:
"We need to do what it takes to get people to pay attention, and if it means showing some skin, that's what we'll do. We think it's important to raise awareness on a very serious issue, and we thought using a fun, attention-grabbing way would be the best way to draw attention to the issue of these suffering animals in Manila Zoo," said Rochelle Regodon, PETA campaign manager.
The trick worked, Regodon said, because their office phones were ringing off the hook from people eager to get more information about the Manila Zoo campaign and help their cause.
It elicited more than double takes from the crowd. It drew the attention of the Bureau of Immigration, holding that the foreigners who took part in the demonstration (3 of the 4 were caucasians) could face deportation. A GMA news report reads:
Commissioner Marcelino Libanan said the country’s immigration laws do not allow foreigners to join mass actions.
"We welcome them here as visitors. They cannot just protest here, especially if it violates the culture of Filipinos," he said.
I'm not familiar with all the immigration and deportation laws, but is there a ground (a statute or a administrative regulation) for doing so?
And even assuming that there is a ground, wouldn't it run counter to the Constitution? Our most fundamental law guarantees full civil rights even to aliens (Vera v. Avelino), which includes the right to free speech (Simon v. CHR).
Oh sure, the mode of expression may be shocking for some, but there were more demonstrations which were more shocking to the senses (remember the sexy starlet in her birthday suit who said "Yes to War, No to Peace!" instead of the other way around?). And besides, the cause PETA is fighting for is definitely legit.
I haven't heard about this issue again, but surely, it was merely a knee-jerk reaction of the honorable BID Commissioner?
Photo: Bob Kramer, Flickr, Creative Commons