Nun loses appeal to stay in Philippines

An n missionary nun facing deportation in the Philippines will use all legal options available to her to fight the Bureau of Immigration’s order and to remain in the country.
苏州夜网

Sister Patricia Fox, 71, was on April 23 ordered to leave the Philippines by May 25 because the bureau said she violated her missionary visa.

Her lawyers appealed the decision but the Bureau of Immigration on Wednesday said it had reaffirmed its order and directed her to leave the country – where she’s lived for more than 27 years.

“This order is final and executory. We will not entertain any further motion for reconsideration,” Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said in a statement on Wednesday.

But her lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, says the nun will “exhaust all available legal remedies” to challenge the bureau’s order and will appeal it with the Department of Justice.

“She expects that the BI (bureau) would also follow the rule of law and its own rules of procedure and will not arrest or forcibly deport her, to give her the opportunity to appeal,” Mr Pahilga said in a statement to AAP.

Sr Fox, a nun with the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, was detained on April 16 for almost 24 hours because she engaged in “illegal political activities” after Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte ordered her investigation for “disorderly conduct”.

One week later Mr Morente told Sr Fox she had 30 days to leave the Philippines after “she was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa.”

Sr Fox’s renewable missionary visa, which was due to expire in September 2018, was also cancelled.

Mr Pahilga filed for a motion for reconsideration and a counter-affidavit, arguing the bureau’s investigation was “sloppy” and her right to due process was “gravely violated”.

In its order on Wednesday, the bureau dismissed claims the nun’s visa was forfeited without due process and insisted she acted “beyond allowed activities” by working outside of Barangay Amihan in Quezon City.

Bureau spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said the complaint against the nun engaging in political activities was separate from her visa issue and pending the investigation into that complaint – Sr Fox could return to the country, but not as a missionary.

“Fox could still return to the country as a tourist after she leaves as she is not yet in the bureau’s blacklist,” Ms Sandoval said.

The action against Sister Fox comes amid a wider clampdown on critics of President Duterte.

A Facebook page set up in support of the nun called Hands off Sr. Patricia Fox said it condemned the bureau’s decision.

“The decision is shameful and smacks of heavy-handedness,” the post said. “Instead of being grateful for Sr. Pat’s years of service to the Filipino poor, the ungrateful Philippine government has decided to remove her from the country.”

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