Philippine immigration confirms move to deport nun

Justice Department says Sister Patricia Fox can still appeal deportation order in courts
Philippine immigration confirms move to deport nun

Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox attends a forum in Manila in June despite an order by the Philippine Immigration bureau for her to leave the country. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

The Philippines' Bureau of Immigration has reaffirmed its intention to deport Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox after earlier ordering her to leave the country.

The bureau on Aug. 30 dismissed a motion for reconsideration filed by the nun's lawyers, saying it failed to raise new matters that could warrant the reversal of the expulsion order.

Bureau spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval said Sister Fox has 30 days on receipt of the order before it can be considered final and executory.

In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said the nun may not be immediately deported because the deportation order can still be subject to appeal.

He said the issue could also reach the courts should the nun opt to file a petition after all administrative remedies before the executive branch are exhausted.

"Any adverse ruling from the [Justice Department or the Office of the President] may be reviewed by the courts," said Guevarra.

The Bureau of Immigration earlier said Sister Fox had violated the limitations and conditions of her missionary visa. It cited photographs showing that the nun had taken part in various political activities since 2013.

In a statement, the bureau also said it had considered President Rodrigo Duterte's earlier statements that branded Sister Fox an undesirable alien for having joined political rallies.

"In fact, the president publicly admitted that it was upon his instructions to investigate Fox for disorderly conduct for participating in rallies," the statement said.

In June, the Department of Justice said Sister Fox could continue to perform her duties as a missionary until her visa expired in September.

The Australian nun was arrested on April 16 and detained overnight before an order to leave the country was issued.

The Immigration Bureau later revoked Sister Fox's missionary visa on April 23 for allegedly participating in partisan political activities.

Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon expressed disappointment over the latest decision, saying "it was ironic that this administration drives away a holy person while coddling drug lords."

The prelate said the deportation order against Sister Fox confirms that the Duterte administration is harassing critics.

Bishop Bastes said the government considers the nun a threat because of her defending the rights of tribal people who are being driven off their lands.

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