Bureau of Immigration arrests 71-year-old Australian nun

Sister Patricia Fox following her arrest today. Photo courtesy of CBCP News.

The Bureau of Immigration has detained a 71-year-old Australian nun who has championed human rights in the Philippines for 27 years.

The service of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines announced that Sister Patricia Fox was arrested at her home in in today (Monday, April 16).

CBCP News said Fox was a missionary with the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, and quoted her as saying: “I’ve been in and out of the country several times but I’ve never been questioned. The immigration bureau has not said anything on what to do with my missionary visa.”

Fox recently joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission in Mindanao. Her work involves helping farmers and indigenous peoples.

Speaking to the Philippine News Agency, the nun said she held a missionary visa that was good until September. 

She said the last time she joined a a public demonstration was a Women’s Day rally held last month.

“I was at the last Women’s Day march in Manila. I have not spoken anything anti-Duterte,” she added.

CBCP News also said the nun was detained in 2013 “for joining protests in Hacienda Luisita, but was released without charges”.

Sister Patricia Fox. Photo by Amihan Euza.

BI spokeswoman Antonette Mangrobang said: “We confirm the apprehension of Patricia Fox pursuant to a Mission Order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente. 

“The apprehending officers are still in the process of completing their reports, documentation and affidavit of arrest. We await the submission of the reports and affidavits before we issue our official statement.”

The human rights advocate is now detained at the BI intelligence division in Intramuros, Manila.

In another move by the BI, an official of the Party of European Socialists was blocked from entering the Philippines yesterday.

Commissioner Morente said today that the Italian was blacklisted in the Philippines after “violating immigration laws” during his last visit to the country in 2017. He was alleged to have taken part in a political activity, which was prohibited under the terms of his visa.