Sr. Fox turns emotional, decries lack of due process

Sr. Fox turns emotional, decries lack of due process

Sr. Patricia Fox wipes her tears as supporters give her flowers during a tribute organized by her supporters in Manila, April 30, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

May 24, 2018

Manila, Philippines

A usually smiling, light-hearted Sr. Patricia Fox was in tears Thursday as she expressed dismay at the government’s firm order for her to leave the Philippines.

The Australian nun could be forced to leave the country as soon as this weekend after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Wednesday turned down her appeal to be allowed to stay.

Fox could not help but be dismayed, citing something she called “lack of due process” in her case.

“I was preparing the worst but hoping for the best. I was hoping for the right process,” Fox said, wiping down her tears.

The BI yesterday reaffirmed its order revoking Fox’s missionary visa after President Rodrigo Duterte complained about her for allegedly engaging in political activities and badmouthing his administration.

The 71-year-old nun admitted joining in some assemblies but said these were not “partisan political activities”.

Fox stressed that she finds nothing wrong for joining farmers, workers, and indigenous peoples fighting for their rights.

“A missionary has to defend the dignity of the people,” said Fox. “That’s where church people should be, with people who are struggling for their rights.”

On April 16, the BI detained Fox following her participation in an international fact-finding mission in Mindanao that looked into human rights situation in the region, which is currently under martial law.

The nun was released the following day after she surrendered her passport, pending further investigation.

A week later, the bureau downgraded her missionary visa into a temporary visitor’s visa and ordered her to leave within 30 days. The leave order for Fox will lapse on May 25.

“I keep thinking if this is happening to me, how much more in Mindanao, to the people I talk to: the workers, the families of those being killed,” she said.

“These are the people who need to get out of these situations because they’re not being treated with dignity as people,” Fox added.

Fox also said she turned emotional because of the pouring support, not just from the church, but also from the different sectors of the society.

“That’s why the thought of leaving is very difficult,” according to her. “It’s been really especial to have people who are saying they don’t want me to go.”

Lawyer Jobert Pahilga, Fox’s counsel, said they will appeal the BI’s latest order before the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday.

He reiterated that the complaint against Fox that she had engaged in political activities has no factual and legal basis.

“We have already expected that the BI will deny the motion for reconsideration that’s why as early as last last week, we have already prepared an appeal,” he said.

Pahilga also said that while the BI order stated that it is final and executory, Fox is not precluded from filing an appeal at the DOJ.

Under the BI Rules of Procedure of 2015, he said that an order cancelling one’s visa becomes effective 15 days after receipt of such order, and is tolled by the filing of a motion for reconsideration and by the subsequent filing of an appeal.

“Thus, it is not immediately executory as the Bureau of Immigration claims,” Pahilga said.