Sister Fox set to leave PH with ‘clear conscience’ – lawyers
Updated @ 7:20 p.m., Oct. 31, 2018
After months of fighting the Philippine government’s order for her to leave, Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox is set to fly out of the country within the week. But she is leaving “under protest.”
According to the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), a group of human rights lawyers supporting Fox, the Bureau of Immigration required the nun to leave the country by Nov. 3.
“After Sr. Patricia Fox’s six months of arduous battle in the legal and political arena since her illegal arrest and detention on April 16, the Bureau of Immigration finally denies today her application for the extension of her temporary visitor’s visa and requires her to leave the Philippines on November 3,” NUPL said in a statement Wednesday.
“She will leave under protest. We will not allow the government to forcibly expel Sr. Fox out of the country given her stature as a respected missionary nun and human rights defender,” the group said.
“Sr. Fox will leave the Philippines with a clear conscience that she has done nothing wrong and illegal during her 27 years of stay in the country. She is and will always be loved by the Filipino people,” it added.
In a statement, Solidarity with the Poor Network (SPN) echoed the same sentiments, saying: “[Fox] would continue to advocate for the human rights of the Filipino people, even outside the country, especially its marginalized sectors such as the peasants, workers and indigenous peoples who are under a tyrannical regime.”
On Nov. 3, SPN would launch a protest action as a tribute to Fox, who dedicated more than 27 years of her missionary work for “the poor and oppressed in the Philippines.”
SPN said Fox’s lawyers would continue to defend Fox as deportation charges filed against her were still pending at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Fox still has a pending appeal at the DOJ where she asked to reverse the order of deportation issued by the BI against her.
Downgraded visa status
BI ordered Fox’s deportation to Australia because she violated “the limitations and conditions in granting the missionary visa.”
Last Sept. 16, Fox’s request for extension was denied by the BI, noting the deportation order issued against her.
The BI said that Fox already spent 27 years in the country as a missionary and according to the memorandum of agreement between the BI and the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines, foreign missionaries should stay in the country for only 10 years.
Last week, the BI downgraded Fox’s visa status to a temporary visitor’s.
After the denial of the extension of her missionary visa, Fox was given temporary visitor status valid for 59 days.
“Downgrading reverted her status to a temporary visitor, and she is given 59 days from the day her missionary visa expired, which was September 5,” BI spokesperson Dana Sandoval said in a previous statement.
The temporary visitor’s visa will expire on Nov. 3.
Still hoping to return
In an interview with reporters, Fox said she was sad about the BI decision.
“I don’t believe they have any grounds to the decision but I can’t do much now,” she said. They have an intel agent at the airport to make sure I am gone by Nov. 3, otherwise, the deportation proceeding for overstaying if I don’t go by Nov. 3,” Fox said.
Asked if she intends to return to the Philippines, she said: “Yeah, if I’m not in the blacklist I intend to return. Early next year, probably. I will look at the situation. It depends on the deportation case. I could have a couple of months if I could come back, I will come back.”
“I just feel at home here now. Especially at this time, people come out in support of me. It’s unexpected, so I’m grateful for the support. I’ll miss the life and the people,” Fox added.
She expressed hope that the Department of Justice would still look at her legal arguments.
“The BI has never looked at the legal arguments against my deportation because it is about freedom of expression, movement, assembly, religion. It’s the basic freedom for everybody under the Constitution and the international law,” Fox said.
“President Duterte and the Bureau of Immigration cannot stop her now from doing her human rights advocacies. She intends to come back in the Philippines as soon as President Duterte is out of power and another government more receptive of dissent and who recognizes missionary and human rights work is in place,” NUPL said.
“Our fight is not yet over; we will face the deportation charges against Sr. Fox which is still pending before the Department of Justice. We shall continue to defend the rights of peoples and hold responsible repressive governments in all for a,” it added. /ac /atm
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