After allegations of human rights violations of a Filipino activist traveling to San Francisco International Airport — US customs officials granted a rare media tour to ensure they acted within the confines of the law.
This in response to an incident involving Filipino activist Jerome Aba, who was detained for 28 hours after arriving at the airport in April.
Aba was scheduled to go on a speaking tour in the US regarding the loss of lives in president Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.
Upon returning to the Philippines, Aba claimed he was tortured by CBP officials.
A claim that CBP is firmly denying.
“I have no explanation why or how anyone would make up such false accusations that clearly and unfortunately impugn the integrity of very professional officers,” said Dr. Brian Humphrey.
Aba claims he was stripped naked in front of an industrial fan during his interrogation process.
“Based on the review of our logs of our detention cells, based upon the reports, and the video footage he was not locked in a detention cell. No fan was turned on against him.
He waited in public areas or he waited in this passenger lounge for his departing flight.
Aba also alleges he was left in a room with a gun and a hand grenade — tempted by officials for him to use the items.
“CBP does not issue, have, or train with hand grenades and we certainly lock someone in a room where that device could be used against our officers or a member of the public.”
Humphrey adds that because Aba’s detainment was an administrative issue and not a criminal matter — Aba was not entitled to a lawyer.
According to CBP, the Department of Homeland Security’s office of the inspector general — currently has the video footage as part of its own investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, Terry Valen of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns is not convinced that CBP is telling the truth.
“There’s no question they’re trying to cover their tracks,” said Valen. “They probably showed you all a very sanitized version of what people go through a customs and borders protection, these lounge areas and things like that.”
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution condemning the alleged human rights violations and calling for a federal investigation of the incident.
Director Humphrey says while that will cooperate with anyone requesting information — he — nor CBP have been contacted by any of the board of supervisors.