Sister Fox given final act: Leave in 30 days
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has ordered Australian nun Patricia Fox to leave the country after it forfeited her missionary visa for “her involvement in partisan politics.”
BI commissioner Jaime Morente said on Wednesday the agency’s board of commissioners forfeited the Australian missionary’s visa on Monday after “she was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa.”
Morente said the board had issued a one-page order directing the 71-year-old nun to leave the Philippines within 30 days from receipt of the order.
Morente explained that Fox’s missionary visa permits “only the privilege to engage in missionary work and not in political activities.
Morente said Fox had specifically violated Section 9 of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, which mandates the BI to determine if a non-immigrant alien deserves to stay in the country.
Morente chairs the three-man BI Board of Commissioners with BI Associate Commissioners J. Tobias Javier and Aimee Torrefranca-Neri as members.
BI Spokesperson Antonette Bucasas-Mangrobang, however, clarified that Fox may still return to the country but only after applying for and obtaining a tourist visa.
A deportation case against Fox is still pending, according to the BI, since she has yet to submit her counter-affidavit on the case.
“It is only after the parties have been heard, will the case be submitted to the Board of Commissioners for their deliberation on whether or not she will be deported and barred from entering the country in the future,” Mangrobang said.
Fox, a known human rights advocate, was arrested by immigration agents on April 17 and was detained at the BI office for a day.
She faces possible deportation for being an “undesirable alien” as she was accused of joining anti-government protest rallies, in violation of the terms and conditions of her missionary visa.
Malacañang has said Fox participated at a rally in Davao, disputing claims of her defenders that she was not involved n protest actions.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque even showed a photo of Fox at the Davao Rally on April 9.
Fox said in a statement Wednesday she helped to train Filipino farmers and tribesmen in organic farming to improve their incomes, as well as “to advocate with them for their rights to land, livelihood, peace, justice and security”.
“It seems this is what has brought me into conflict with the Philippine government,” she added. “I am still hoping for a chance to explain how I see my mission as a religious sister and maybe the decision can be reconsidered.”
‘You insult me’
Her lawyer Jobert Pahilga said the deportation order violated the nun’s right to due process, and she would appeal to have the immigration service ruling rescinded.
The immigration bureau held the nun overnight last week but released her without charges.
Following her detention, Fox said she had recently joined a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses against farmers by soldiers fighting communist rebels.
Hours after her release, Duterte announced he had personally ordered her arrest as a warning to foreigners to stop criticizing his government.
“I ordered her to be investigated… for disorderly conduct,” Duterte said in a speech last week.
“You insult me under the cloak of being a Catholic priest, and you are a foreigner! Who are you? It is a violation of sovereignty,” Duterte said, apparently referring to Fox. /kga/ac