There is some basis in what Thai national Prasertsri Kosin says about Filipinos, specially the part about the Philippines being home to a “dangerous” society and Filipinos being “afraid of one another” as well as the way his own Filipino friends are “also mistreated” presumably by other Filipinos.
These were among observations Kosin (who has been living and working in the Philippines over an undisclosed period) expressed as “Koko Narak” on Facebook using his rudimentary English skills. Not surprisingly, Kosin’s actions attracted an “undesirable alien” charge and is now in the process of being deported.It is, of course, certainly difficult to excuse the other slurs and unfounded comments he makes about his “superior body” and how it may be infected by “the pignoy virus”. The key question here, however, is whether Kosin’s alleged crime actually caused injury or death. Philippine Immigration Law lists some criteria on which bases an alien may be deemed “undesirable”. Though the set of criteria includes various financial crimes, prostitution, and sedition, there seems to be nothing in that law that provides for insult or disrespect of Filipinos and their culture as cause for deportation on grounds of “undesirability”.
In any case, how does one measure the gravity of an expressed “insult” or show of “disrespect” to begin with? Different people interpret a message in different ways. A message involving a culturally-sensitive topic, for example, may be interpreted by different people over a range with bemusement on one end and serious personal offense on the other. Most likely it will depend on the size and health of the message recipient’s ego. People with unhealthy but big egos tend to quickly take offense.
It therefore seems that Kosin is being deported because a number of Filipinos (presumably those who reported him) felt “insulted” by Kosin’s words.
The subjectiveness of the notion of insult and this being a case study of how a message summarily deemed “insulting” to Filipinos is used as basis for punitive action is what makes the expat community in the Philippines a nervous lot. The following lament posted on the discussion thread How Easy Is It To Get Deported If You Are Not Filipino? on the online message board Philippines Expat Forum seems to encapsulate the general sentiment of the Philippines’ community of “resident aliens”…
What chance [do] we have if they will deport Alex Baldwin for an insult that he claimed was a joke Undesirable Alien Alec Baldwin Banned From the Philippines for a joke Alec Baldwin has been banned from entering the Philippines – just one day after the actor publicly apologized for joking about sex trafficking in the country. The country’s Bureau of Immigration has closed its borders to the star, according to a statement released by the government office on Thursday (21May09). Immigration Commissioner Marcelino Libanan says, “By being on the bureau’s blacklist, Baldwin is forbidden from entering the country as he is deemed an undesirable alien.”
In short, foreign residents in the Philippines are pretty much aware that simply harbouring an opinion of the Philippines could get them into serious trouble. In the case of Prasertsri Kosin, it is likely that a big enough proportion of the Filipino population would be insulted by his words. But that is precisely the point being made here. Is the answer to the question of whether or not the charge of “undesirability” will stick based on the percentage of Filipinos offended? Or will it be based on an evaluation grounded on clearly-defined criteria or rules?
‘Koko Narak’ has since posted a note of apology to Filipinos on Facebook.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.