Duterte admits ordering probe vs Australian nun

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte took "full responsibility" for the temporary detention of Australian missionary nun Sister Patricia Fox, admitting he had ordered the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to investigate her.

"It was upon my orders, implemented by the BI, and I take full responsibility, legal or otherwise, for this incident," said Duterte on Wednesday, April 18.

He was attending the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

However, Duterte said he ordered only an investigation into Fox's "disorderly conduct," not her detention.

"I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but invite her to an investigation for a disorderly conduct," said the President. (READ: Duterte critics slam detention of 71-year-old Australian nun)

Yet Duterte used the podium to rant about the 71-year-old nun, accusing her of badmouthing his administration, for which she deserves to be barred entry from the Philippines, he said.

"Huwag mo papasukin kasi walang hiya ang bunganga ng madre na 'yan (Don't let her in because that nun has no shame)," said a fuming Duterte.

Duterte claimed Fox made remarks critical about the government and that these constitute a "violation of sovereignty."

He also advised her to criticize the Australian government for its own human rights violations, pointing to how Australia has turned down migrants.

"Ikaw madre (You nun), why don't you criticize your own government, the way you handled the refugees hungry and dying, and you turned them back to the open sea? Bakit hindi ka magyakyak doon (Why don't you rant there)?" said Duterte.

His bloody campaign against illegal drugs, said Duterte, pales in comparison to the violations of Australia.

"Buti dito kriminal ang pinapatay ko, [eh] kayo (At least it is criminals I order killed, how about you)?" he said.

Warning to leftists

The President then warned leftist groups not to invite foreigners into the country or else they would be arrested. (READ: Bishop fears crackdown amid Australian nun's detention)

"Kayong mga (You) Left, do not ever, ever invite – I will never allow them in the country. If they try to enter surreptitiously, they will be arrested," he said.

Duterte made no apologies for what happened to Fox even if earlier that day, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said "apologies are in order" because the BI had made a "mistake."

"Siguro apologies are in order kasi madalian naman siyang pinalabas din ng BI. Siguro nagkakamali rin naman ang BI," said Roque in a GMA-7 interview.

(Maybe apologies are in order because she was quickly released by the BI. Maybe the BI also makes mistakes.)

The BI released Fox on Tuesday, April 17, after keeping her in detention for almost a day. She was released because the BI found she had a valid missionary visa and because she was not violating immigration laws.

Fox is expected to undergo preliminary investigation to determine if she is to be deported.

The BI had said that Fox was accused of "engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations."

Fox, however, said she has been active in standing up for human rights issues because of her religious beliefs, not because of any political leanings.

"I haven't joined political rallies in terms of party politics, but I have been active in human rights issues," the Australian nun had said.

In a separate case last Sunday, April 15, the BI barred Party of European Socialists (PES) deputy secretary-general Giacomo Filibeck from entering the Philippines, and immediately deported him.

Filibeck, who previously condemned the killings in Duterte's anti-drug campaign, was supposed to attend an event of the Left-leaning Akbayan in Cebu City.

Malacañang said the Philippines was merely exercising its sovereign right when it barred Filibeck from the country. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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