Government bars Aussie nun from returning for religious works

Australian missionary sister Patricia Fox, who was ordered deported, can no longer return to the Philippines to continue her religious and missionary work after the Bureau of Immigration included her name in the bureau’s Black List Order for violating conditions of her visa.

Patricia Fox
“After thorough review and deliberation, the BOC, composed of Commissioner Jaime Morente, Associate Commissioner J. Tobias Javier, and OIC Associate Commissioner Marc Red Marinas, found that Patricia Anne Fox violated Philippine Immigration laws and was found to be an undesirable alien,” a spokesperson for the bureau, Dana Krizia Sandoval, said.

“The BOC found that her actions are inimical to the interest of the state,” she said.

Fox was earlier granted a missionary visa on July 21, 2016, valid until Sept. 5, 2018, with a limitation that she would render missionary work in Barangay Amihan, Quezon City.

“Sister Fox clearly violated the limitation and conditions of her visa, which specifically allowed her to engage in missionary and religious work, not political activities in the Philippines,” said Sandoval. “She was found by the board to have actively participated in political activities, which she also admitted in her pleadings,” she said.

Fox attended different rallies holding banners and wearing shirts representing different leftist organizations, the bureau said.

“Foreign missionaries in the country must be actually, directly and exclusively engaged in religious work in the Philippines. They must not engage in a partisan political activity or in any endeavor not consistent with their religious or missionary vocation,” Sandoval said.

She added that an alien’s stay in the country is “but a mere privilege, and [he or she] should not be allowed to foment unrest and defiance.

The BI said allowing Fox to participate in rallies would open floodgates for other aliens to join rallies to the detriment of public peace and order.

In its decision, the BOC also reiterated that the BI’s mandate is to implement immigration laws, and is duty-bound to apply these laws equally, regardless of race, color or creed. 

Fox, in an interview with radio dzMM, said she is not ready to leave.

“This has become my home, so I hope I can say,” she said in Filipino.

The 71-year-old missionary plans to file a fresh appeal to block her deportation.

“According to my lawyers, we can still appeal,” she said.

A leftist lawmaker denounced the decision to deport Fox.

“The Duterte administration does not have the moral authority to deport her. Her deportation for championing the poor is in sharp contrast with the Duterte government’s treatment of its officials who were involved in corruption... they were just transferred to lucrative offices instead of being permanently barred from the government,” Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao said.

“The deportation order only confirmed the insecurity of this government,” he added.

Catholic Bishop Arturo Bastes also criticized the deportation order.

Bastes said the bureau’s decision was “sad and embarrassing” for the Philippines.

Bastes, who is a chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines-Episcopal Commission on Mission, added that the government’s decision is an unacceptable treatment of a pro-poor missionary.

“The country’s treatment of a foreign missionary who is helping our indigenous people and poor is unacceptable. This is a very sad development... it is indeed not good. I am ashamed of the government,” he said.

The 71-year-old nun is the first Catholic Church missionary to be ordered deported from the Philippines.

Fox, who has been living in the Philippines since 1990, drew the President’s wrath after joining a fact-finding mission in April to investigate alleged abuses against farmers—including killings and evictions by soldiers fighting guerrillas.

Last month, her deportation was halted when Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said immigration authorities used the wrong procedure to expel her.

The decision gave Fox a reprieve but Guevarra also ordered the immigration authorities to hear a case on her visa’s cancellation along with pending deportation proceedings.

Duterte, 73, has launched a deadly crackdown on drugs and has railed against human rights critics, especially foreigners whom he accuses of meddling in his nation’s affairs.

“Don’t let her in because that nun has a shameless mouth,” Duterte said in April, accusing the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion missionary of “disorderly conduct.”

Fox has denied engaging in politics, saying her actions were part of her work to advocate for justice and peace. With Maricel V. Cruz

Topics: Australian missionary , Patricia Fox , Philippines , Bureau of Immigration , Black List Order , Jaime Morente
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