President Duterte has rejected calls for him to stop the deportation of 71-year-old Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox.
It has been reported that the president met with lawyers who were asked by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines to appeal the Bureau of Immigration’s order revoking Sister Patricia’s missionary visa for alleged involvement in political activities.
However, addressing beneficiaries of land reform in Mulanay, Quezon, today (Wednesday, May 2), he ruled out a change of heart on the expulsion order.
“Some people from San Beda [law school] tried to appeal on behalf of the nun, but there are many nuns here,” he said. “There are nuns in the mountains with the New People’s Army. Let them come down. We have more than enough nuns.”
He also pointed out that the government was simply enforcing a rule approved by former Justice Secretary — and now jailed Senator — Leila De Lima in 2015 that prohibited foreigners from participating in rallies, whether for or against the government.
“Anybody can criticise me, except for foreigners,” the president said, adding that unlike Filipino citizens, foreigners do not pay the salaries of government officials.
Bureau of Immigration agents arrested Sister Patricia at her home in Quezon City on April 16. It was alleged she had violated the conditions of her visa by engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations. She was released the following day.
Then, on the day after that, the president announced that he had personally ordered the nun to be investigated for “disorderly conduct”.
Following this, last Thursday, it was announced that the missionary had 30 days to leave the country.
Sister Patricia, who has worked with poor and indigenous people in the Philippines for nearly three decades, plans to go to the Supreme Court to fight her deportation.
In the meantime, she retains the right to enter the country on a tourist visa.