A defiant Sister Patricia Fox have vowed to fight on as the deadline for her to leave the Philippines fast approaches.
Jobert Pahilga, the 71-year old nun’s lawyer, said they would exhaust all available legal channels to overturn the Bureau of Immigration’s order that she must leave the country by tomorrow (Thursday, May 24).
“For the said order, if not challenged, will have far-reaching implications to other missionaries similarly situated with Sister Pat as the BI can now rule and decide what activity is considered political or not,” he said.
Despite the BI’s threat to file another deportation case, the nun would still file a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), he told reporters today.
“Sister Pat thus expects and hopes that the BI will abide by its rules of procedure, not arrest or forcibly deport her, give her the opportunity to appeal it to the DOJ and let the latter decide on her appeal.”
Mr Pahilga emphasised that Sister Patricia, even as a foreigner, had the right to freedom of expression.
“She reiterates that what she did – participating in gatherings or assemblies of farmers, indigenous peoples who demand that their rights to land and resources be respected; or workers in their demand for humane and just wages, security of tenure, and humane conditions of work, and the like – is an exercise of that right, and are not political activities but simply to help promote and protect the rights of the poor and the needy,” he said.
When asked about the nun’s deportation today, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said: “We respect the decision of the Bureau of Immigration. That’s the law. Dura lex sed lex [It is harsh, but it is the law].”
Speaking at a book launch in Quezon City yesterday, the nun said: “I’m still hopeful, I mean, I haven’t heard any response to our petition. I’m hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”
Sister Patricia, who has worked in the Philippines for 27 years, drew the government’s attention after joining the International Fact-Finding and Solidarity Mission in Mindanao last month to investigate reports of rights abuses against farmers and indigenous tribes. President Duterte later clarified that he had personally ordered the investigation into the nun’s activities.
The nun’s camp maintained that joining the mission was part of her solidarity and missionary work and she has never taken part in activities that seek to undermine the government.