PH orders deportation of Australian nun Patricia Fox

Australian nun Patricia Fox. Photo via ABS-CBN.
Australian nun Patricia Fox. Photo via ABS-CBN.

Yesterday, the country’s Bureau of Immigration (BI) ordered the deportation of controversial Australian nun Patricia Fox. She was also included in the BI’s blacklist, which bars her from ever returning to the Philippines.

According to the BI’s 10-page resolution, Fox was allegedly illegally engaged in political activities in 2013, 2016, 2017, and 2018. There were photographs which allegedly showed her “demanding the release of political prisoners,” involved in a rally in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, and a rally by a labor group in Davao City, among others.

Such actions violated the conditions of her missionary visa, according to the BI, which also said that “her presence in the country poses a risk to public interest.”

The Bureau also cited Fox’s failure to inform them that she would be involved in such activities which the BI said constitutes “gross misrepresentation or neglect” of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.

The BI also said that her visa, which will expire on Sept. 5 this year, stipulates that her missionary work will only be in Barangay Amihan Quezon City, but she “engaged and interfered in political activities from north (Tarlac) to south (South Cotabato) of the Philippines. She works outside of her community.”

BI’s decision is just the latest development in the controversy surrounding Fox, which started in April this year after the BI canceled her visa and ordered her to leave the Philippines in 30 days. This order was later nullified by the Department of Justice (DOJ) last month, after the DOJ said that the BI’s decision to expel Fox had no legal basis.

Fox said yesterday that she was disappointed by the BI’s decision to deport and blacklist her, “[B]ut that is the order. We will look at what we can do about it,” she said.

The 71-year-old Fox has been living in the country for close to three decades. Her lawyer Jobert Pahilga insisted that Fox has only been engaged in missionary work with indigenous groups and the poor and was not involved in political activities during her stay in the Philippines.

Pahilga said they will appeal the new order, and will raise the issue with the DOJ again if necessary.

In a public speech, President Rodrigo Duterte took full responsibility for Fox’s detention in April, and said: “I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct.”

Not mincing words, he added: “Don’t let her in because that nun has no shame.”

Commenting on the BI’s ruling, Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said: “That’s the law. Dura lex sed lex [The law may be harsh, but it is the law].”

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