The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has ordered Australian nun Patricia Fox to be deported after she was accused of involvement in partisan political activities.
Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said the 71-year-old’s missionary visa was forfeited by its board of commissioners under Section 9 (g) of the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940.
“She was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa,” he said in a statement today (Wednesday, April 25).
The bureau has now given Sister Patricia 30 days to leave the country. Her missionary visa had been due to expire in September.
In a statement today, Sister Patricia said: “I will be forever grateful to all those Filipinos that I call my friends and for all those from both church and sectors who have supported me through this time.”
She recalled how it was in 1990 that she volunteered to come to the Philippines. “I eagerly volunteered as I had Filipino friends in Australia,” she said. “It took a while to become a bit enculturated as things are done differently, but the people in the rural areas where I spent most of my time were so patient and laughing with me at my mistakes.
“It was through them that I came to learn some of the basic issues which caused their poverty: lack of their own lands, control of markets, dependence on pesticides.”
She also expressed her surprise at the speed in which the deportation had been issued.
“I was surprised,” she said, “as I had thought the process was that I would have 10 days to put in a counter-affidavit to answer the charges. It was through the media that I heard of the decision, as I, or my legal counsel, don’t yet have a copy.
“I may lose my right to be in the Philippines but I can never lose the learnings and beautiful memories.”
However, she added that she hadn’t lost hope that she would have “a chance to explain how I see my mission as a religious sister and maybe the decision can be reconsidered”.
Her legal counsel, Jobert Pahilga, said they were going to file a motion for reconsideration before the BI. If refused, he added, they were prepared to take the case before the Court of Appeals and even to the Supreme Court.
He also said that he believed a report about military abuses in Mindanao could have been the motive for President Duterte’s order to investigate Sister Patricia.
“Maybe it was because the military are afraid of the report that will come out of the fact-finding mission where Sister Pat participated, as the report details the violations committed by the military during the implementation of martial law in Mindanao region.”
Sister Fox is a coordinator of a Philippine congregation of Roman Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion and has lived in the Philippines for almost 30 years.
She was taken from her house last week and detained at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila for almost 24 hours before she was released.