Immigration chiefs refuse Sister Pat’s plea for new missionary visa

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The Bureau of Immigration has denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Sister Patricia Fox to extend her missionary visa.

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The two-page order, signed by the BI’s Board of Commissioners, noted that the motion contains “merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted, and found to be without merit”.

Likewise, the order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente, Deputy Commissioner Tobias Javier, and OIC Deputy Commissioner Marc Red Mariñas noted that Sister Patricia “failed to raise any new and substantial arguments”.

This means the Australian nun’s only option to stay in the country is to have her visa downgraded.

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“Downgrading is the process that will revert her status to a temporary visitor’s visa, and she will be given 59 days starting from the date of the expiry of her visa.

“Non-compliance of the order may result in another deportation case against her,” BI spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval said in a statement.

Fox’s missionary visa expired on September 5. She applied for an extension of this visa, but was refused a week later. Within days, she appealed again.

The Australian nun is also the subject of a deportation order, which she is currently appealing with the Department of Justice.

Sandoval added that they may grant Sister Patricia a temporary visitor’s visa upon downgrading, without prejudice to the resolution of her deportation appeal.

The 73-year-old’s supporters have said that as of this afternoon (Monday, October 8), they are yet to receive a copy of the BI’s latest order.

A statement released on her behalf reads: “Sister Pat hopes that the DOJ will settle the substantive issues raised in our Petition for Review particularly on the right of foreigners to their exercise of freedom of expression and assembly, universally recognised by both domestic and international laws, which the BI refused to squarely address.

“Sister Pat maintains her position that her standing in solidarity with the poor and oppressed in the Philippines, for almost three decades now, is an essential element of her mission as a Church worker and more importantly, a valid exercise of her right to freedom of expression and assembly.” 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that following the BI’s ruling, the question of the nun’s deportation will now be resolved by his office.

 

The nun was arrested and questioned on April 16 for allegedly joining politically rallies. She has worked in the Philippines for 27 years.

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