Bishops oppose expulsion of Sister Patricia Fox: 'Continue to serve our people'
Following an investigation requested by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, the head of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) communicated an expulsion order to the nun to leave the country within 30 days. The missionary’s lawyers announce an appeal.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Let Sister Patricia Fox stay in the country and continue serving our people". This is the appeal launched by Msgr. Romulo Valles, Archbishop of Davao and president of the Episcopal Conference (CBCP) to the Philippine government, asking to revoke the expulsion order for the 71 year old Australian missionary, and well known known human rights activist. Superior of the Religious of Our Lady of Sion in the Philippines, where she worked for 27 years, the nun was arrested last week, and released after a day, on charges of having "participated in anti-government demonstrations".
Following an investigation requested by the Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, the head of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) communicated an expulsion order to the nun to leave the country within 30 days, starting from last April 23rd. The renewal of her missionary visa, which was due to expire in September, was revoked on the same day. A spokeswoman for the Bi said that Sister Patricia could still return to the country as a tourist, no longer as a missionary.
Expressing regret for the decision of the government, Msgr. Romulus Valles said yesterday: We sincerely make an appeal that the authorities may make a reconsideration of their for Sr. Patricia Fox to leave the country,” Valles said. “We believe further that she is moved to serve our people by the love of Christ,” he said.
Jobert Pahilga, one of the missionary's lawyers, announced: "We will present a motion against this order. She has not participated in any party activity. She is a nun ".
In a short note published on the internet, Sister Patricia declared herself "surprised" by the cancellation of her visa, which she learned from the media. Fox said she was surprised over the decision, reiterating that she did not violate the terms of her missionary visa. “I hope I would be given due process and would be given a chance to explain what my missionary work is,” she said. “I am very sad that the decision at present is that I leave the Philippines. I may lose my right to be in the Philippines but I can never lose the learnings and beautiful memories.”
Meanwhile, Catholics and human rights activists are opposed to the provision, claiming that behind the arrest and expulsion of Sister Patricia is a government campaign against dissent. Some legal experts also fear that the case may constitute a dangerous precedent for the missionary work of foreigners in the country.