With “Manila 2009,” Film Producer Dr. Manfred Bölk and Mr. Lehnert are following up on their 2005 Exposé “Manila 2005,” which depicted the plight of four Germans that had evidently been detained and maltreated by Philippine Immigration Officials. The sequel Documents Lehnert’s efforts to help Foreigners in similar Situations, while Witnesses of his work provide insightful Commentary on the Road ahead for Immigration policy here. Lehnert has assisted 58 Foreigners in Immigration related cases based on his Specialization in Philippine Immigration Law an Expertise he says too few Filipino Lawyers share. Embassies provide a list of Attorneys for their Nationals to turn to, but he says most on the list are unqualified to defend Foreigners in Immigration Cases. His Semi-Operational "Organisation" -The Foreign Assistance Center Philippines, also provides Expats in the Country a Forum for Immigration Assistance.
Putting faces to the abuse, the Film presents several Beneficiaries of Lehnert’s Assistance: Robert Fuessl, a German Pilot caught on camera in Detention at the BI-Bicutan Detention Center; Jonathon Bently-Stevens, an Australian would-be Investor in Davao who lost his capital as a result of trumped-up charges; and Henry Assmann, a Canadian detained for six years for allegedly working without the necessary Permits. A cross-section of such victimized Foreigners reveals a mismatch of old male Foreigners and their young Filipina Wives or Partners, sometimes even Prostitutes. The possibility of the latter taking advantage of the former, claim Lehnert, is very real. BI Commissioner Marcelino Libanan, who himself has recently revamped the Bureau with Foreigner-friendly procedural changes, supports the Filmmakers’ bid to infuse European Standards into Philippine Immigration policy. In particular, Commissioner Libanan stressed the need for Prosecutors in Immigration cases to remain objective, as fair Adjudication in such matters would cultivate a more secure, investor-friendly Environment. Lehnert also additionally extends his Assistance to Members of the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA). The 45-minute Documentary “Manila 2009” will be aired later in the year on ARD Television in Germany and on 18 regional stations there. A 25-minute English version will be broadcast on German international News Channel DW-TV.