MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has revoked the missionary visa of Australian nun Patricia Fox and ordered her expulsion from the country within 30 days due to her alleged “involvement in partisan politics.”
On Wednesday, BI commissioner Jaime Morente said the agency’s board of commissioners forfeited the 71-year-old’s missionary visa after “she was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa.”
Fox was also compelled to leave the Philippines within 30 days from receipt of the order.
Morente justified their move by saying that Fox 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.
He said Fox’s missionary visa only allows her to engage in missionary work and not in political activities.
But Fox’s counsel, lawyer Jobert Pahilga said they would file a motion for reconsideration to counter BI’s order.
Should the BI deny their motion, Pahilga said they would then elevate the case to the Court of Appeals (CA), and further to the Supreme Court (SC), if needed.
“We will question the order, we will move for the reconsideration of the order of the BI, and we will ask the BI to conduct a full-blown hearing on the case of Sister Fox. That is our course of action right now,” Pahilga said in an interview over ANC.
Last April 16, Fox was arrested and investigated by the BI, which President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he ordered because of Fox’s “disorderly conduct.” He citied her attendance and participation in political rallies.
Fox, the superior of the Notre Dame de Sion Philippine Province, has been immersing with peasants in the Philippines for 27 years.
‘Her only crime was her advocacy’
Militant groups staged a protest action in front of the BI office in Manila on Wednesday to condemn the agency’s order against Fox.
Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said BI’s move was “unjust” and a “clear case of the Duterte government’s crackdown” against peasant advocates.
The progressive leader said Fox’s “only crime was her advocacy” for the past 27 years to dedicate her life in helping the poor.
“Sr. Pat Fox’s deportation threat is a clear case of the Duterte government’s crackdown not only on dissent and critics but also against advocates who campaign for the welfare of poor Filipinos,” Casilao said.
The militant lawmaker also condemned the hasty decision of the Immigration Bureau to forfeit the 71-year-old nun because of her alleged participation in political and partisan activities.
“The decision was unjust and the element of crackdown is written all over it,” he added.
Casilao has likewise urged the public to help protect the Australian nun and long-time human rights and genuine agrarian reform advocate from a looming deportation which he said was based “on questionable accusations and evidence.”
“The public should step up participation in the discourse by helping to expose the case of Sr. Pat Fox that her advocacy of helping the poor and marginalized was behind the attack against her right to stay in the Philippines to continue her missionary work,” he added.
Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago saluted Fox for her “relentless service to the exploited and oppressed.”
Elago lamented that instead of going after the “big fish” criminals, it is people like Fox “who faces constant repression and tyranny from the ruthless dictator.”
“Duterte may crackdown on missionaries and supporters, but all he only does is strengthen the people’s unity and resistance against his dictatorship,” she added. (davaotoday.com)