Because of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s lethal war on drugs, two Filipino immigrants in the United States will be spared from being deported back to their home country.
The unnamed Filipinos were reportedly bound for deportation due to previous drug offenses in which both have already served jail terms for, reports the Inquirer.
With the help of a lawyer from the Immigrant Rights Program of the Asian Law Caucus, however, they were able to gain protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). They were represented for free by the legal advocacy group which is based in San Francisco. Their lawyer, Kevin Lo, helped prove that due to their records, they would be potential targets of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs should they be sent home.
After the immigration judge’s CAT ruling, one of them was released immediately while the other remains in custody due to an impending appeal of ICE. The remaining detained convict is now awaiting a written decision of the judge that could withstand the said appeal.
The Filipinos, who are both virtually homeless and in their mid-30s, currently reside in San Francisco with their individual families. Lo reportedly ran into them accidentally at the San Francisco immigration detention center. Realizing that the two Filipinos needed to be represented, he offered help. It is quite common for people in immigration detention to not be properly legally aided.
“In evaluating the cases of the two Filipinos clients, we learned about the situation in the Philippines with President Duterte’s drug war. And when we realized that they had claims for protection under the Convention Against Torture, we decided to take their cases because we know the situation is pretty serious,” Lo was quoted as saying.
“We decided to make the argument that drug addicts who are deported to the Philippines has a more then 50 percent chance to be added to government watch lists and subsequently killed,” Lo explained.
Lo and his team were assisted by University of Washington history professor Vicente Rafael, who specializes in Southeast Asian history.
“Rafael became our source for the condition in the Philippines particularly the drug war being waged by President Duterte,” Lo said.
The detainees’ protection from the judge.was secured after Lo’s team proved that drug convictions in the Philippines usually end up in torture and death.
“If we haven’t been able to submit the country condition confirmation that intended to show that the government’s (drive against drug offenders) is true, the ruling may not have been granted and they could have been deported,” Lo explained.