Australian nun Patricia Fox appeals to DOJ to let her stay in PH

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox filed on Friday, May 25, a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), appealing that she be allowed to stay in the Philippines. 

The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has given Fox until Friday to leave the Philippines, after it made final the order to forfeit her missionary visa over political activities, and to kick her out of the country. The BI clarified that because she is not considered deported, Fox can apply for a tourist visa.

What happens if she doesn’t leave? Fox will not leave the Philippines, as they count on the DOJ to step in and let her stay.

The BI, however, said that the order stands pending any decision from the DOJ. If Fox does not leave, she will face another deportation case. 

"[Final and executory ang BI order] unless wala pong apila, pero tayo po ay nag-apila ngayong araw na ito. Batay po sa Omnibus Rules ng Immigration, stayed po yung execution ng Bureau of Immigration," said Fox's lawyer Kathy Panguban.

(The BI order is final and executory unless there is an appeal, and we filed an appeal today. Based on the Omnibus Rules of Immigration, the execution of the Bureau of Immigration is stayed.)

Panguban appealed to the BI as uncertainty looms over Fox's ability to continue to stay in the country.

"Panawagan po sa Bureau of Immigration na kilalanin nila ang sarili nilang omnibus rules, ang existing rules natin. Panawagan po namin sa DOJ na kilalanin ang ating sariling batas," Panguban said.

(We call on the Bureau of Immigration to recognize its own omnibus rules, our existing rules. We also call on the DOJ to recognize our own laws.)

As of posting, it’s been a wait-and-see situation for the embattled Australian nun who earned the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte for being allegedly too political.

"Siyempre, ang wish ko ay magpatuloy ang missionary work ko dito kasama ang mga mahihirap. Sana magpatuloy ang work ko bilang misyonero, bilang human rights defender, bilang tagapagkalinga ng mga mahihirap," the frail Fox told her supporters who went to the DOJ with her on Friday.

(Of course I wish to be able to continue my missionary work here with the poor. I hope to continue my work as a missionary and a human rights defender and as someone who cares for the poor.)

Duterte had admitted he ordered the BI to investigate Fox, which resulted in the nun's arrest and brief detention in April.

What’s in their petition? Fox’s petition argues that the BI’s Omnibus Rules of Procedure laid down two grounds for cancellation of visa:

“Obviously, the ground relied upon by the Bureau of Immigration in cancelling the Petitioners visa was not among the grounds enumerated in the above cited provision. This is violative of the right of the Petitioner to due process,” Fox said in her petition.

Fox also said she was not given the opportunity to file her answer to the complaint against her.

There is a pending deportation complaint against Fox. In her petition, she said that the same grounds were invoked in the deportation and visa forfeiture cases, which is that she engaged in political activities.

“Considering that there is already deportation proceedings, this case should have been consolidated and resolved together with the pending deportation proceedings,” Fox said.

Fox said that the accusation that she engaged in political activities was “speculative.”

“Even assuming, without necessarily admitting, that the Petitioner participated in rallies and fact finding missions, such participation did not violate the terms for the issuance of her Missionary Visa,” the petition said.

It also said that the alleged participation of the nun in rallies is not included in the prohibited acts under the Immigration Act of 1940 which are:

"Persons who believe in or advocate the overthrow by force and violence of the Government of the Philippines, or of constituted lawful authority, or who disbelieve in or are opposed to organized government, or who advocate the assault or assassination of public officials because of their office, or who advocate or teach principles, theories, or ideas contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines or advocate or teach the unlawful destruction of property, or who are members of or affiliated with any organization entertaining or teaching such doctrines."

“The photographs submitted to the Bureau showing the Petitioner holding a placard is neither a prohibited act nor a crime. The slogan says it all. It is a legitimate expression of the Petitioner's solidarity as a missionary nun to the peoples redress of grievances regarding the plight of political prisoners who were mostly peasants, trade unionists, indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and other oppressed sectors of society,” the petition said.

Fox appealed to the DOJ to reverse the BI’s order and reinstate her missionary visa.

Fox said: “[My] presence, being with our fellow Filipinos in the peripheries, is in fact commendable, not to be frowned upon by the State. [I am] merely performing my vocation and my calling, the very same purpose why I was issued a Missionary Visa in the first place.” – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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