Bishops slam looming deportation of Sr. Fox
Sr. Patricia Fox speaks at the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, July 19, 2018. PHOTO FROM PCNE
July 20, 2018
Catholic bishops have criticized the government’s order to deport Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon said the order only confirmed the “suspicion” that the government is “systematically harassing people who criticise their policies”.
“This is a very sad development, this is really bad. I am ashamed of the government,” Bastes said.
The bishop said the Duterte administration considers the nun a “threat” because of her defence of the rights poor and the marginalized Filipinos.
“We know that thousands of Lumad are leaving their homes because of the military accusing the Lumad of being communists,” said Bastes.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo stressed that it was the fact finding mission in Mindanao, which is still under martial law, that brought attention to Fox who has been doing missionary work in the Philippines for 27 years now.
“Why is it afraid of fact finding missions if its policies are good as it claims? This is another instance of creeping authoritarianism,” Pabillo said.
“She has been serving our poor people for decades and this is how the government rewards her just because it is so insecure in what it is doing,” he said.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) said the 71-year-old nun should be deported to Australia within 30 days for allegedly violating the terms of her missionary visa.
But BI spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said the deportation could be temporarily held off if Fox’s camp files a motion for reconsideration before the deadline.
“If they will file a motion for reconsideration, according to the Omnibus rules, they should file it in 30 days,” she said
According to her, Fox’s fate would lie on the result of her appeal, and if her camp elevates the case to higher offices such as the Justice department.
“We will follow what the DOJ orders us,” Sandoval said.
Sr. Fox’s legal counsel, in a statement, said they are dismayed by the BI order and placing the nun in the government’s watchlist.
“We will face and fight this case in all avenues and exhaust the remedies available to us,” according to them.
“President Duterte and the BI have no basis to say that Sr. Pat is an undesirable alien, unless their definition of undesirability is helping the poor,” they said.