Immigration bureau detains 71-year-old nun

Immigration bureau detains 71-year-old nun

Sr. Patricia Fox (in checkered white blouse) is prayed over by Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo at the Bureau of Immigration office in Intramuros, Manila where she is currently detained, April 16, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

April 16, 2018

Manila, Philippines

Authorities have arrested a 71-year-old Australian Catholic nun and known human rights advocate over allegations that she is an “undesirable alien”.

Sr. Patricia Fox, superior of the Our Lady of Sion congregation in the Philippines, was nabbed by six personnel of the Bureau of Immigration at their mission house in Quezon City at around 2:15pm on Monday.

Wearing a checkered white blouse and a gray skirt, the nun was detained at the BI intelligence division in Intramuros, Manila.

Sr. Fox has been under medication for a spinal cord illness.

BI spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said that Fox was arrested in pursuant to a mission order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente.

“We await completion of the investigation before we issue our official statement. Thank you,” said Mangrobang.

Atty. Jobert Pahilga, counsel of Fox, said the nun faces deportation for her alleged participation in protest rallies.

But the lawyer said the fiscal in charge of the inquest recommended for Fox’s release once she’s able to produce her passport, which she gave to travel agency arranging her trip back to Australia next month.

This means that the nun will have to spend the night at the BI headquarters while waiting for her travel document.

Pahilga said the BI will hold Fox’s passport while an investigation is pending.

Sr. Fox has worked in the Philippines for 27 years helping farmers and indigenous peoples.

She recently joined an international fact-finding and solidarity mission that investigated alleged rights abuses against farmers and lumad in Mindanao.

“I’ve been in and out of the country several times but I’ve never been questioned,” Fox said. “The immigration bureau has not said anything on what to do with my missionary visa.”

Human rights advocates and church people including Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo raised alarm over the arrest of Fox.

The prelate, who visited the nun at the BI on Monday evening, said the nun’s arrest may be part of a crackdown against government’s critics.

“There’s no martial law yet but they are already going after people who oppose them,” Pabillo said.

In December last year, a retired priest and known human rights advocate was killed in Jaen, Nueva Ecija province.

Fr. Marcelito Paez, 72, was gunned down by still unidentified men after he facilitated the release of a political prisoner.