Sr. Fox stays for now: DOJ says BI has ‘no legal basis’ to cancel nun’s visa

Sr. Fox stays for now: DOJ says BI has ‘no legal basis’ to cancel nun’s visa
Sr. Patricia Fox speaks to journalists during a press conference in Quezon City, April 26, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

June 18, 2018

Manila, Philippines

The Department of Justice temporarily halted the leave order against Australian nun Sr. Patricia Fox , allowing her to stay in the country for now.

In a resolution issued Monday, DOH Secretary Menardo Guevarra granted Fox’s petition to nullify the order of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) that forfeited the 71-year old nun’s missionary visa.

Guevarra argued that the BI’s forfeiture of Fox’s missionary visa over alleged participation in partisan political activities was “without legal basis”.

He explained that while the immigration laws give the bureau broad powers in regulating the entry and stay of aliens in the country, visa forfeiture “is not among those powers”.

“What the BI did in this case is beyond what the law provides, that is why it has to be struck down,” Guevarra said.

The DOJ chief ordered the BI “to ascertain whether the charge and the evidence against Fox make out a case for visa cancellation, for which specific grounds are stated in the law”.

“The BI treated this as a case for visa forfeiture instead of for visa cancellation. As a result, the Bureau has yet to decide whether the supposed actions of Fox do indeed justify the cancellation of her visa. It would therefore be premature for us at the DOJ to decide that matter now,” he said.

Guevarra also directed the BI to hear the visa cancellation case along with the deportation case against Fox which is already pending with Bureau.

“Until a final resolution of the visa cancellation and/or deportation proceedings is reached, or until the expiration of her missionary visa, whichever comes first, Sr. Fox may continue to perform her duties as a missionary in the Philippines,” he added.

Fox has welcomed the DOJ order and reiterated her willingness to stay and serve the country’s poor.

“We will just have to wait and see what happens, whether that (DOJ decision on the missionary visa) affects the deportation case, because that is separate from the visa issue,” she said.