After months of fighting a bid to deport her, Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox is set to leave the Philippines “with a clear conscience”.
A statement from the National Union of People’s Lawyers today (Wednesday, October 31), the campaigning missionary will leave the country before her downgraded visa expires next Wednesday.
It said: “After Sister Patricia Fox’s six months of arduous battle in the legal and political arena since her illegal arrest and detention on April 16, the Bureau of Immigration finally denies today her application for the extension of her temporary visitor’s visa and requires her to leave the Philippines on November 3.
“She will leave under protest. We will not allow the government to forcibly expel Sister Fox out of the country, given her stature as a respected missionary nun and human rights defender.
“Sister Fox will leave the Philippines with a clear conscience that she has done nothing wrong and illegal during her 27 years of stay in the country. She is and will always be loved by the Filipino people.”
Sister Patricia still has a pending appeal at the Department of Justice (DOJ) against the Bureau of Immigration’s decision that she be deported. This was issued after President Duterte ordered an investigation into her alleged political activities in the country.
As we reported last week, her missionary visa was downgraded to a temporary visitor’s visa, which is set to expire next week. Just days later, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said a speedy resolution of her appeal was unlikely due to the department’s workload. “The DOJ is handling other petitions for review which are much more urgent,” he added.
Sister Pat’s sadness
In an interview with reporters today, Sister Patricia said she was sad about the bureau’s decision.
“I don’t believe they have any grounds to the decision but I can’t do much now,” she said. “They have an intelligence agent at the airport to make sure I am gone by November 3, otherwise, the deportation proceeding for overstaying if I don’t go by then.”
Asked if she intends to return to the Philippines, she said: “Yeah, if I’m not in the blacklist I intend to return. Early next year, probably. I will look at the situation. It depends on the deportation case. I could have a couple of months if I could come back, I will come back.
“I just feel at home here now. Especially at this time, people come out in support of me. It’s unexpected, so I’m grateful for the support. I’ll miss the life and the people.”
Sister Patricia had worked in the Philippines for 27 years, focussing her efforts on the needs of the poor and displaced. She has consistently denied that her actions have ever been political.
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