Sister Pat testifies against Duterte at ‘sham’ International People’s Tribunal

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International People's Tribunal

Patricia Fox — who is facing deportation for political meddling — has testified against President Duterte at a self-appointed court.

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The Australian nun appeared by video link at the ‘International People’s Tribunal’ in Brussels, Belgium, today (Tuesday, September 18).

A palace spokesman has dismissed the hearing as a “sham proceeding”.

The court is a collaboration of various organisations, including the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers, International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

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Previously, in 2015, it held a tribunal about the partial reopening of the Subic naval base. It found both President Aquino and President Obama “guilty” of crimes against the Filipino people.

In her testimony today, Sister Patricia described the harassment she had experienced during her deportation proceedings. She also spoke more generally about missionaries and social workers being harassed in the country.

Yesterday, we reported how the 72-year-old had launched another appeal after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) refused to renew her missionary visa.

On the direct orders of President Duterte, an investigation in the nun’s activities was launched in April. This concluded that she had participated in political activities, contrary to her visa conditions. She denies these claims, saying her missionary work involves dealing with poor farmers, indigenous people and victims of social injustice.

The BI first ordered her deportation in July. Since then, a string of appeals has seen her remain in the country, despite her visa having expired on September 5.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque today dismissed the tribunal as a “sham proceeding”. He said: “That’s a propaganda proceeding of the left.”

He did not specifically refer to Sister Patricia’s involvement in the hearing. 

Also giving evidence today was Sultan Hamidullah Atar of Marawi City. He testified about human rights violations allegedly committed by government forces during the Islamic State-inspired siege of his city.

He also said that because of martial law they could not do something about building peace in the region. “Anybody who intervenes will be tagged as terrorist or supporters of terrorist groups,” he complained.

The International People’s Tribunal verdict is expected to be reached tomorrow. It will then be submitted to the UN’s Human Rights Council, the European Parliament and the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where complaints against President Duterte are already pending.

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