BI insists: No ‘crackdown’ on foreign missionaries
Amid outcry from government critics, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) has denied that the deportation order issued against Australian Sister Patricia Fox was part of a “crackdown” on foreign missionaries.
BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval stressed that there was no crackdown on foreign missionaries in the country to begin with.
“Sister Fox was found to have violated immigration laws,” Sandoval said in a statement on Friday after the media got hold of the deportation order on the 71-year old nun.
Sister Fox was ordered deported for her reported “active participation in political rallies, fact-finding missions and conferences in various areas of the country.”
In its 10-page order, the BI said the acts were “admitted by Fox herself in her Memorandum and as shown by photographs of her in these political activities.”
The acts, the BI said in its order, is “contrary to the conditions laid down by the said orders and her representation when she applied for a missionary visa.”
“When foreigners violate our immigration laws, the law must be applied and enforced, in the same manner that Filipinos must follow immigration laws when they are in another country,” Sandoval said.
“We welcome the presence of foreign missionaries in the Philippines, but, as with any alien staying in our country, they must respect and follow our laws,” the BI spokesperson added.
However, according to the human rights group Karapatan, the deportation order issued against Sister Fox was a “a dangerous tool for foul-mouthed and tyrannical leaders who fear international solidarity.”
“The Bureau of Immigration order being used to justify the persecution of Sr. Patricia Fox is both vague and arbitrary, certainly a dangerous tool for foul-mouthed and tyrannical leaders who fear international solidarity,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement on Friday.
“Sister Fox deserves to stay in the country, surely more than the parasites in government who have willingly plundered and violated the rights of the majority,” she stressed.
Palabay also called on all other groups to unite and resist the BI’s “unjust decision.”
“We stand by our call to stop the deportation of Sr. Fox,” Palabay said. /muf
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