Palace: Sister Fox’s leaving PH ‘under protest’ is ‘misleading’
“To say that Sister Fox is ‘compelled to leave under strong protest” is, therefore, misleading as it is erroneous.”
This was Malacañang’s reaction on Saturday, when Sister Patricia Fox was set to leave the Philippines due to the expiration of her missionary visa.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) downgraded Fox’s visa to a temporary visitor status, which made it valid only for 59 days.
“Sister Fox was given due process of law. She underwent a legal process where she was given the opportunity to be heard,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement. “She availed of all remedies that she may stay in the Philippines but the BI upheld the law and denied the request for the extension of her visa, which is set to expire tomorrow, November 4.”
Panelo denied that the Duterte administration threatened Fox’s “freedom of expression.”
“Neither is there ‘injustice’ nor ‘silencing or threatening anyone from exercising the freedom of expression.’ Freedom of expression remains unbridled in this part of the world,” Panelo said.
Panelo also mentioned Fox’s participation in protest rallies, saying it violated the conditions of her stay in the country.
“Undeniable is the fact that Sister Fox joined protest rallies. She has publicly acknowledged that joining these activities is part of her advocacy,” he said. “Her participation therefore violated the conditions of her stay thereby mocking our laws, and abusing the hospitality extended to her by the host country.”
BI ordered Fox’s deportation last July 19 after she violated “the limitations and conditions in granting the missionary visa…and order her deportation to Australia, subject to her submission of all appropriate clearances.”
BI added Fox’s participation in political rallies and fact-finding missions was contrary to her conditions to conduct missionary work in her community in Quezon City.
Panelo said Fox’s deportation was a reminder that foreigners were not entitled to the same rights of Filipinos.
“The departure of Sister Patricia Fox is a timely reminder to all foreigners who stay or sojourn in this country that they are not entitled to all the rights and privileges granted to the citizens of the Philippines,” he said.
He added political rights were only allowed for Filipinos, citing an operations order approved by then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.
“Including the absolute exercise of political rights inherently exclusive to Filipino citizens, as spelled out in Operations Order No. SBM 2015-025 issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), approved by then Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima,” he said.
Panelo then sent his regards to Fox, noting that she would be punished for her violations.
“We wish Sister Fox well in her travel and we thank her for whatever good deeds she has performed during her stay in the country. Such acts however cannot exempt her from the punishment imposed by law as a consequence of her wrongdoing,” he said. /atm
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