Immigration agents arrest elderly Australian nun
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Monday afternoon arrested Sister Patricia Fox, an elderly Australian nun and known human rights advocate.
Fox, 71, was arrested on undesirable alien charges, according to lawyer Jobert Pahilga, who assisted the nun during inquest proceedings late on Monday.
Pahilga said the inquest fiscal recommended that Fox be released and that the case be further investigated.
“There was no finding of probable cause so her release was recommended. However, the condition was that she produce her passport, which is not with her now,” Pahilga told reporters.
The passport is with a travel agency arranging Fox’s trip to Australia in May.
It is expected to be presented to the BI on Tuesday, after which Fox is expected to be released.
If the passport is not produced, Fox might be charged with being an undocumented alien, Pahilga said.
The lawyer said Fox was shown photographs of her participation in a fact-finding mission to a jail in Mindanao earlier this month.
“She recognized the photo. Apparently, it was the military that requested that she be brought in,” Pahilga said.
Pahilga said Fox’s actions did not constitute participating in partisan political activity, and that it was part of her work and ministry as a missionary.
Immigration agents picked up Fox at her home in Quezon City and took her to the BI head office in Intramuros, Manila, at around 4 p.m.
“I was only ordered to come here. The order they showed me says to go to the immigration office,” Fox said in a phone interview earlier on Monday.
Fox is the superior of the Philippine province of the Notre Dame de Sion (Our Lady of Sion), a congregation of Catholic nuns.
Earlier, BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang confirmed the arrest of the Australian nun on orders from Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente.
“The apprehending officers are still in the process of completing their reports, documentation and affidavit of arrest. We await the submission of the reports and affidavits before we issue our official statement,” Mangrobang said.
Fox holds a missionary visa, and she has been living in the Philippines for 27 years.
Taking part in rallies
According to Sol Taule, a lawyer for the human rights group Karapatan who rushed to Fox’s aid, the nun’s missionary visa is valid until September 2018.
“After a while, someone told me that I was brought here for being in rallies. I did not say anything until my lawyer arrived,” Fox said.
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