The Bureau of Immigration reiterated forfeiture of her missionary visa. The nun will have to leave the country by tomorrow. Her lawyer filed an appeal with the Justice Department. The authorities accuse the nun of taking part in anti-government political rallies in the cities of Davao and Tagum.
Manila (AsiaNews/CBCPNews) – The Filipino government has rejected the appeal of Sister Patricia Fox (pictured), an elderly Australian missionary, against her deportation.
The 71-year-old superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in the Philippines asked that the forfeiture of her missionary visa on 23 April be reversed.
The week before, the nun was arrested for participating in anti-government demonstrations and released after a day.
Following an investigation ordered by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, the Bureau of Immigration Office (BI) ordered the nun to leave the country within 30 days.
Sister Patricia has lived in the Philippines for 27 years, working among farmers and indigenous peoples.
Recently, she had taken part in an international investigation and solidarity mission among the peasants and Lumad people living in the southern island of Mindanao to look into alleged violations of their rights.
The authorities accuse the nun of participating in political gatherings in the cities of Davao and Tagum.
In a three-page document, the Bureau of Immigration reiterated its decision yesterday, noting that its “order is final and executory. We will not entertain any further Motion for Reconsideration,” said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
Sister Patricia will have to leave the Philippines by tomorrow. However, BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval clarified that the complaint for deportation against Fox in engaging in political activities is still pending as it is separate from the agency’s action forfeiting her visa.
She said that pending resolution of the deportation complaint, Fox could still return to the country as a “tourist” after she leaves as she is not yet in the bureau’s blacklist.
The BI dismissed Fox’s assertion that the Bureau forfeited her visa without due process and that allegations that she engaged in political activities were not backed with solid evidence.
It reiterated that Fox “acted beyond allowed activities” under her visa by working outside Quezon City, the place “where she claimed she would render her missionary works” when she applied for her visa.
Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, Fox’s counsel, said they will appeal the BI’s latest order before the Department of Justice (DOJ) this week.
He said that he had already expected the BI to “deny the motion for reconsideration,” which is “why as early as last week,” they already had “prepared an appeal”.