From: "Christopher Castro" <email@example.com>
Subject: GRAHAM LIM DECRIES HUMAN RIGHT VIOLATIONS
To: "GRAHAM LIM" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
GRAHAM LIM Decries Human Right Violations
Interviewed By: Christopher Castro
The undersigned is one of the top freelance publicist, a long-time member of the Philippine Sportswriting fraternity, and a close ally of detained Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) secretary general.
I had the chance to visit him at the Bureau of Immigration Detention Jail at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City and I was just so aghast to see Mr. Lim's condition at prison cell. In a closed room with several double-deck bunks, I immediately saw a pale smile on Mr. Lim who of course was happy to see friends who sympathize with him. As I came nearer, I saw that the smile he gave was just his way of saying “I'm still alright”.
But that pale smile only hides what's really on his mind as his slightly turning red eyes showed he was in pain.
The pain was more than just the relatively hot condition of the cell which he shares with another Taiwanese, two Nigerians and a Greek-looking foreigner who all tried to make themselves happy by making jokes about the wardens and the detention cell itself. There was no electricity as the post bogged down days before Mr. Lim was detained last March 25. Imagine, the prisoners had to contribute money to buy gasoline for the generator. But with no electricity, there was hardly any air flowing inside the cell.
More than the hot condition of cell, I know that what really bothers Graham was the pain of UNCERTAINTY. Until when will he be detained? Will he just rot inside the jail or be given freedom? Where will he be deported? What will happen to his family? What will his kids say if they see him detained? What will happen to Philippine basketball?
Asked about how he's been doing, Graham just gave a pitiful look at first.
“I'm going to get sick here,” said Graham with an unusually oily face and a scattered uncombed hair. “It's so hot, it's been five days since I got here and still there's no electricity. And the food – I can't eat them. I only eat if my visitors bring me food. If there's none, I'd rather endure hunger than get sick with the food they serve.”
Yes, Graham got the shabby treatment like those other illegal aliens and hardcore criminals. Locked all dark in the night as he sleeps, and sweating hard gasping for a sniff of the clean air he used to know as he ponders on the questions of uncertainties at daytime.
It came to my mind, “What has Graham gravely done to deserve such punishment?”
He was arrested in lieu of a deportation order issued by Malacañang. And what great timing! The Bureau of Immigration Chief Alipio Fernandez, who I know was Graham's friend, was at the hospital at that time and his Acting Commissioner Arthel Caronongan immediately dispensed the arrest order on Graham.
Graham claims he's a Filipino, being born in Manila's Chinatown district Binondo. I personally saw his family when I attended the wake of his father just two weeks before his arrest.
Graham cries political harassment and linked it to his being a high-ranking and internationally influential official of basketball.
That same day I visited him (March 28), the Bureau of Immigration refused to release him even if the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order on his deportation.
Caronongan said, “As far as I know, there was no direction to release Lim, the TRO only stopped his deportation.” He further said the BI would refer the appelate court's decision to the Office of the Solicitor General and that the bureau might contest the TRO.
Just who are really behind Graham's arrest? Most likely, influential people who refused bargains of consideration for Graham to the point of “contesting the rule of court”.
For Graham, this is a clear case of human rights violations.
He was not given his day at the court to prove his claims, as Malacañang without any hearing on the case, issued his deportation order.
At the cell, the treatment was inhumane – the food given to them was all in plastic wraps and not in plates and bowls. It was more of a pigpen, as they were jampacked in a pigpen-like cell.
Graham turned more shattered upon learning his appeal for bail was also denied.
“I wasn't yet proven a criminal, but I am already treated as such. By birth and at heart, I am a Filipino but I am ashamed of our government now that I have personally experienced this,” averred Graham.
“Why don't you just accept the deportation order rather than suffer here,” I asked.
“Deport where? If there's a country that will accept me, I would accept it. But I'm not a Taiwanese citizen, I am Filipino. So where will they deport me,” he replied.
“Was it a ploy just to keep you off in touch with your international FIBA allies so that the Philippine Olympic Committee can get FIBA's approval on Pilipinas Basketball (the new body POC created to replace BAP)?”
“What do you think?” Graham answered as he told me that the other group, Pilipinas Basketball was supposed to meet FIBA secretary general Patrick Baumann in the IOC assembly in Korea.
“I really wanted to be there in Korea and fight them off because what they're (the POC and Pilipinas Basketball) are all against the constitution and by-laws of FIBA. I know there might be something fishy going on, I'm very much confident they won't get FIBA's nod even if I'm still here in prison. FIBA, as I know and had been, always live up to its principles and the by-laws of the organization,” he further explained.
As I left, somehow I got an assurance that Graham will be alright. From his hapless look when I came in his detention cell, now I see a face of a warrior still fighting despite all odds. Graham has not lost everything yet, he still has HOPE within him.