Australian nun Patricia Fox yesterday announced that she would appeal against a deportation order issued against her by the Philippines government a day earlier over allegations of involvement in political activities against the country’s president.
Fox’s lawyer Sol Taule said that the appeal would be filed on Monday and added that the order issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) set a bad precedent, Efe news reported.
“Because we intend to file a motion for reconsideration, the decision is not final and executory until we have exhausted all our remedies,” Taule said at a press conference. “We’re seeing the start of this trend under President (Rodrigo) Duterte’s government, to deport anyone who is doing good. What is wrong with standing for human rights?” Taule said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Referring to the deportation order, Taule added, “It will set a very bad precedent for other missionaries who also want to stand in solidarity with Filipinos.”
The Bureau of Immigration said on Thursday that Fox, 71, violated the conditions of her missionary visa by taking part in political activities, according to the expulsion order posted on the website of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines.
The immigration officials said that allowing Fox to participate in political activities “would open the floodgates for other aliens unbridled right to criticise government by joining rallies to the detriment of public peace and order”.
Fox is the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion and has been working as a missionary in the Philippines for the last 27 years. She was arrested on April 15 for participating in a protest against the government.
The nun has openly criticised the violent anti-drug campaign launched by Duterte which has left thousands of people dead in police operation. Ten days after Fox’s arrest, the Bureau of Immigration withdrew her visa and gave her one month to leave the country.
She appealed against the order and the department of justice upheld the challenge on June 18 and allowed her to remain in the country temporarily.
A Carmelite commission on justice and peace condemned the BI order to deport Fox. “Why is it that the Duterte administration is so adamantly against her missionary work for these poor and marginalised sectors of society?” said the Carmelite priests, reiterating a previous statement. “We believe that only a despotic tyrant would consider her missionary work as undesirable. Hence, we call on our fellow religious and missionaries and the people of goodwill to stand with Sister Patricia and continue our collective stand of solidarity with the marginalised sectors in our society,” they added.
Philippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the confiscation of Fox’s visa did not have a legal basis but warned that a deportation process was in progress.
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