DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The indigenous people of Southern Mindanao has defended Sr. Patricia Fox from the Bureau of Immigration’s cancellation of her missionary visa based on a decision last Monday of a three-man panel headed by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente.
Bae Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay, who is known for her fierce leadership of the Lumad struggle in Mindanao, criticized the government’s decision to deport the 71-year-old missionary nun who has helped peasants and indigenous people for 27 years.
Bae Bibyaon said that instead of forcing Sr. Pat to leave the country out of her continuous effort to help the Lumad, the Duterte government should be more keen in allowing open-pit mining and logging operations that are mostly owned by foreign companies.
“These mining and logging companies have a long list of human rights violations with our people but they can still freely monopolized our land, they are even secured with the government’s armed forces,” said Bae Bibyaon.
As posted in the BI’s website stated that a missionary who would like to render community service in the Philippines should get a pre-arranged employee’s visa for missionaries under Section 9(g) and Section 20 of the Commonwealth Act No. 613 or the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940. Under Section 9(g), a non-immigrant visa may be granted to a person with prearranged employment. However, “an alien who is admitted as a non-immigrant cannot remain in the Philippines permanently”.
It also stated that those who are in permanent admission “must depart voluntarily to some foreign country and procure from the appropriate Philippine consul the proper visa and thereafter undergo examination by the officers of the Bureau of Immigration at a Philippine port of entry for determination of his admissibility by the requirements.”
Bae Bibyaon reiterate d that land grabbing and ” exploitative ” ventures of foreign large-scale mining, plantation expansion, and energy extraction ” are more dangerous than a nun who has been in the side of the indigenous people in protecting their ancestral land”.
The Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao described the recent decision to the missionary nun’s deportation as part of the crackdown among progressive groups in the country.
According to PASAKA secretary general Jong Monzon, the Duterte administration ” is using its capacity to conceal the attacks against the people in Mindanao under Martial Law were people in communities have continuously face the states brutal and inhumane act of harassment and threat”.
“We are saddened on Sr. Pat’s deportation. We can clearly see that this regime has instilled fear to its people under Martial Law and we are more worried to know that this government can do anything not just to its people but also to those who are like Sr. Pat that has been on our side,” said Monzon
Monzon also added that Sr. Pat has actively supported the Lumad struggle.He said that after the fact-finding mission, the nun also went to the Lumad who are now in Manila to consult their situation and discuss with them the outputs of the mission.
“We will never forget what Sr. Pat has done for us. She is always there helping us with our needs from the very first Lakbayan ng Pambansang Minorya and the Lakbayan of our Alternative Schools in Manila up to now. She is more than a Filipino” added Monzon. (davaotoday.com)