The Department of Justice is set to release its resolution on the appeal filed by Sister Patricia Fox seeking the reversal of the Bureau of Immigration’s deportation order.
The decision was announced by Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra today (Sunday, June 17).
“DoJ will release the resolution on Monday, June 18, sister fox [sic] deadline to leave the country,” Guevarra said in a text message sent to the Philippine News Agency.
In the petition for review filed on May 25 by her legal counsels from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Sister Patricia asked the DoJ to overturn the BI’s leave order on May 17, forfeiting her missionary visa due to allegations of violating the conditions of her stay and gave her a temporary visitor’s visa lasting only 30 days.
The NUPL reiterated Sister Patricia’s position that “there is no factual basis for the downgrading of petitioner’s missionary visa into a temporary visitor’s visa”.
“The allegation that she violated the terms and conditions of her visa is misplaced and unfounded. In the case of the petitioner, there is no mention in the report of the intelligence agents of the BI and even in its assailed order that petitioner’s presence or activities disturbed the peace and order of the country,” Fox said.
While Sister Patricia’s counsels agreed with the BI’s position that a visa is a privilege and not a right given to foreigners, they pointed out “once it is granted by the State, it cannot be revoked except on valid and lawful ground and upon observance of due process of law, both substantive and procedural”.
“Be that as it may, the petitioner submits the view that while a visa given to a foreigner is a privilege that is subject to the discretion of the granting authority — an exercise of the plenary power granted to the State as regards to exclusion of foreigners — this does not come without limitations,” the lawyers said.
“To espouse otherwise, as what the BI is fervently pushing in its Comment, would run counter to the very nature of an organized society and would set a very dangerous precedent championing an unbridled exercise of State authority at the expense of basic human rights of the people,” they argued.
“These limitations apply not only to its power to deport foreigners but to all the other powers that the BI may exercise such as visa forfeiture or visa cancellation,” they added.
For her part, Sister Patricia said she was hopeful that the issue would be resolved. “All I can say I’m hopeful this will be given due consideration in the case. Still I’m hopeful,” she added.
Earlier, Guevarra said the DoJ “reserves the right to call such clarificatory hearings, as may be necessary, to arrive at a just resolution of this appeal.”
In its order, the BI dismissed the Australian nun’s arguments that the bureau forfeited her visa without due process and that allegations that she engaged in political activities were not backed with solid evidence.
It reiterated that she acted beyond allowed activities under her visa by working outside Barangay Amihan in Quezon City, where she claimed she would render her missionary work when she applied for her visa.
The order likewise stressed that the strict rules on evidence do not apply to immigration cases, which are administrative proceedings requiring only the lowest quantum of evidence.
On April 16, Sister Patricia was apprehended by BI operatives pursuant to a mission order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente for violating the conditions of her stay in the country by engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations.