Eleventh-hour reprieve from deportation for Sister Patricia Fox

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Fox
Sister Patricia Fox has expressed her delight at today’s announcement. (File photo).

Sister Patricia Fox has won an eleventh-hour reprieve from deportation but is still subject to proceedings to expel her.

But the 71-year old Australian nun, who has been in the Philippines for more than 27 years, vowed today (Monday, June 18) to continue following her vocation in the country.

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“I will continue doing missionary work because that’s the expression of my mission,” she told reporters at Quiapo Church hours after the Department of Justice (DoJ) issued a favourable ruling on the revocation of her missionary visa.

“For me, its the mandate of the Church,” she said. “That’s the teaching of the Church, to do missionary work. I’m not doing anything wrong anyway.”

Sister Patricia was briefly detained in April after President Duterte ordered her to be investigated, accusing her of political activism in violation of the rules of her visa.

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The Bureau of Immigration (BI) had cancelled her visa and ordered her to leave the Philippines by the end of today, but the DoJ nullified the order as having no legal basis.

“What the BI did in this case is beyond what the law provides, that is why it has to be struck down,” said today’s statement from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

The decision gives Sister Patricia some breathing space but the DoJ also ordered the BI to hear a case on her visa’s cancellation along with pending deportation proceedings.

“Until a final resolution of the proceedings is reached, or until the expiration of her missionary visa, whichever comes first, Sister Fox may continue to perform her duties as a missionary in the Philippines,” the statement said.

Sister Patricia, who declared herself relieved after the decision, confirmed that her visa was valid until September 9.

“We are very pleased actually, because we weren’t sure what would happen,” she told AFP. “I was just so relieved.”

Sister Patricia, who has worked in the Philippines since 1990, attracted the president’s wrath after joining a fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged abuse of farmers by soldiers in Mindanao.

In April he accused her of “disorderly conduct” and said: “Don’t let her in because that nun has a shameless mouth.”

A missionary of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, Sister Patricia has denied engaging in politics, saying her actions were part of her work to advocate for justice and peace.

Before today’s decision was released, she vowed to fight any moves to deport her.

“It’s more of looking at getting due process for myself and this happening to others,” she told ABS-CBN television. “I’m thinking if there’s no due process when I am high profile, how much more in the provinces where people are being arrested?”

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