Thursday, October 18, 2018
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At Large

Not so fast

For the moment, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) is preparing a case against two foreigners: Kuwaiti Husayn al-Dhafiri and his wife Syrian national Rahaf Zina prior to their deportation allegedly for violating immigration laws.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre presided over a televised press conference recently, with officials from the BI and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) presenting the couple to the media. It was obvious that the justice secretary felt he had scored a major arrest, making the case that the two had ties to the terrorist cabal Isis.

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But since then, little has been heard of the case beyond the request by the Kuwaiti government that the couple be deported posthaste on suspicion of being part of a terrorist plot. Some reports said al-Dhafiri is an explosives expert who was in the country to teach local bomb-makers. Zina, on the other hand, is said to be the widow of a high-ranking Isis operative.

So what happened between the arrest and presentation of the two, and the decision to deport them posthaste?

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That is a question being asked by some members of Congress. The representatives: Baby Arenas and Emi de Jesus, and Jesulito Manalo and Harry Roque, sit on the committee on overseas workers.

Their involvement, they said, stems from the links between the Kuwaiti and Winston Q8 Certification Solutions Inc., a Kuwait-based company that “certifies” Filipino workers bound for Kuwait. The legislators say they are moving to block the impending deportation of the couple so they could look deeper into the operations of Winston Q8. For one, they want to know if the certifying office is being used as a front for Isis in the Philippines and in the region.

Representative Arenas has long had a bone to pick with the employment policies and practices of Middle Eastern employers.

If a link should be made between Winston Q8 and Isis, she says, then we must all brace ourselves for the day when Filipino workers, especially domestics, are deployed in terror incidents, including being used as suicide bombers.

Certainly, the arrest of al-Dhafiri and Zina was a coup, if all the allegations being made against them prove accurate. All the more reason to keep the pair in the country so our local authorities could look deeper into their activities here, especially the way they seem to have breached immigration laws with impunity. Once they leave our shores, we lose all jurisdiction over them, and all we can do is hope that foreign governments would be more zealous in their attempts to get to the bottom of their motivations and possibly deadly actions.

This being the middle of Holy Week, the most solemn and reflective period in the calendar of the Catholic Church, it’s time we turned our minds toward “alternative”—and perhaps more relevant—religious practices.

Sen. Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate committee on climate change, offers an alternative to the usual Holy Week practices, encouraging Filipinos to “carbon fast,” that is, fast in an environment-friendly manner.

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“To carbon fast is to reduce our individual carbon emissions,” the senator explains, adding that a low-carbon lifestyle “is the conscious effort by individuals and communities to change their daily routine and practices to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

Among Legarda’s suggestions for carbon fasting: choosing food that is “local, plant-based, and in-season” to lower demands on energy, transportation and preservation that result in greater carbon emissions. Legarda also encourages us to “venture into modes of transportation that are energy-efficient, such as walking, biking, taking public transport, and carpooling.”

“Economize on energy consumption and shift to indigenous and renewable energy sources,” the senator suggests, such as using low-wattage appliances, unplugging electronics when not in use and other energy-saving practices.

Legarda likewise advocates for solid waste management, including recycling and composting biodegradable waste; responsible water consumption; and planting more trees and “green” areas wherever possible.

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TAGS: Bureau of Immigration, carbon fasting, holy week, Husayn al-Dhafiri, Immigration, Isis, Loren Legarda, NBI, opinion
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