Detained Filipino speaks out against US Customs and Border Protection, alleging abuses

SAN FRANCISCO — New details in the detainment and deportation of 25-year-old peace advocate Jerome Aba at San Francisco International Airport last week.

“Hindi ako sanay na ako po mismo ngayon ang biktima na direkta ng paglabag sa karapatang pangtao.”

Speaking at a press conference in the Philippines last Friday, the Mindanao native recounted his treatment by officials from the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), where he says he was deprived of his human rights.

“I am not a US citizen, but I am entitled to the universal declaration of human rights. Sinabi sa akin you are not entitled to that.”

Aba, who was invited by several US-based organizations for a speaking tour, says that CBP officials interrogated him, took his belongings away without his consent, and made him remove his clothes.

“Uuna ay tinanong ako kung “are you a terrorist? Or are you a communist? Ganun po yung line of questioning sa akin, pagkatapos ng mga ibang questioning tungkol sa pagka-rally, sa ISIS, anong tingin ko sa politics sa US.”

Aba also described how he was offered bread with ham only after 24 hours of detainment. This happened after Aba specifically said he doesn’t eat pork because of his religious beliefs.

Aba went on to say that he was made to sign a blank paper in order to be released, and that he was forced to record a video saying that he was not tortured.

Advocates say that Aba was subjected to racial profiling and anti-Muslim accusations.

Meanwhile, in a statement to the media, the CBP  said that its officers “treat all travelers with integrity, respect, professionalism, and according to law. Allegations of torture and religious discrimination are false.”

Continued demonstrations in support of Aba were planned for this afternoon at San Francisco’s airport.

Joining BA now in the studio to further shed light into the detainment and deportation of Jerome Aba is Rhonda Ramiro of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines — US Chapter.

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