11/06/2018, 15.46
PHILIPPINES
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Sister Fox's expulsion is a warning to foreigners not to criticise Duterte

Foreign missionaries live amid tensions. Despite widespread fears, the Church seeks dialogue with the authorities on the most urgent social problems. The country’s emergencies include extrajudicial killings, martial law in Mindanao and unpunished murders.

Manila (AsiaNews) – The long legal battle that ended with Sister Patricia Fox’s expulsion (pictured) from the country is "a warning to anyone, especially foreigners, who dare to criticise the government of President Rodrigo Duterte," said a Catholic source that asked that their name be withheld for security reasons.

"That Duterte did not like public dissent was clear from the start of his administration. It is equally evident that the Australian nun was forced to leave the country since the president had already announced it".

Another source, also anonymous, notes that the presence of foreign missionaries in the country is a source of tensions. "Everyone tells them not to speak out because those who threw out Sister Patricia can do the same with others too: priests, nuns or lay people."

"Still, people are talking in low voices, hoping that the clampdown against criticism by the authorities will not last forever".

Despite widespread fears, the Church has sought dialogue with the government, especially on the most urgent problems, such as “extrajudicial killings during police anti-drug operations, martial law on Mindanao Island and the many unpunished murders of officials and priests.”

"Faced with all this, the working conditions of missionaries take second stage. Various diocesan priests have lost their lives (three in the first six months of 2018). As a result of this, anyone working for the Church is keeping a low profile, avoiding public criticism."

"We hope that this climate will end as soon as possible, along with the killings and attacks on the Church. At the same time, we must contain the damage. Such a distance between the Catholic community and the state was unexpected, but I think it is attributable only to Duterte’s unscrupulous attitude."

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