Philippines orders deportation of Sister Patricia Fox

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Thursday, July 19, ordered the deportation of Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox and included her in the BI blacklist, which bars her from ever returning to the Philippines.

The BI ruled that Fox violated the conditions of her missionary visa because she allegedly joined political activities. Her lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, provided a copy of the BI resolution on Thursday.

In its resolution, the BI noted that Fox was granted a missionary visa on July 21, 2016, valid until September 5 this year, "with a limitation that she will render her missionary work in Barangay Amihan, Quezon City."

"However, Fox engaged and interfered in political activities from north (Tarlac) to south (South Cotabato) of the Philippines. She works outside of her community," the BI said.

The bureau continued, "Fox violated the limitation and condition of her missionary visa which allowed her to engage in missionary/religious work, not political activities, in the Philippines. Her presence in the country poses a risk to public interest."

(Read the full text of the BI resolution below.)

Reacting to the resolution, Fox said, "Well of course I'm disappointed, but that's the order, and we'll look at what we can do about it."

Hours before getting informed about the BI order, Fox appeared at the 5th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

In high spirits, Fox sat down for a talk show type of interview with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and other panelists. Afterwards, Fox joined a press conference on PCNE.

The deportation order comes after the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier nullified previous BI orders that forfeited Fox's missionary visa. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra noted in the resolution, however, that there was a pending deportation complaint against Fox at the BI. This is separate from the visa forfeiture issue.

Guevarra said on June 18, "Until a final resolution of the visa cancellation and/or deportation 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."

Fox has rejected the BI's "narrow-minded definition" of missionary work, saying she joins rallies and gatherings of the marginalized as "part and parcel of my apostolate and missionary work." – Rappler.com