Photo: Philippine Conference on New Evangelization
An Australian missionary nun ordered deported last week by Philippine authorities is not leaving the country just yet. Sister Patricia Fox, of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, won a reprieve after her lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration on July 22.
"The deportation order cannot be enforced until it becomes final.... With the filing of the appeal, the deportation will not be executed," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.
On July 19, Philippine authorities ordered the immediate deportation of Sister Fox after she was declared an "undesirable alien" by immigration authorities.
The bureau found the nun "in violation of the limitations and conditions of her missionary visa" for reportedly joining partisan political activities. The nun has also been put on the bureau's blacklist, barring her re-entry.
Immigration bureau spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval told ucanews.com that the Board of Commissioners would review the nun's appeal.
"We froze the implementation of the order against Sister Fox pending her appeal. She can stay in the country while waiting for the final order," said Sandoval.
The nun can also apply for the extension of her missionary visa, which will expire on Sept. 2, because "the order to include her on the blacklist is also suspended."
Sister Fox's lawyer said the immigration bureau's decision to deport the nun was based on "a false and unfounded statement" by President Rodrigo Duterte. The president has made statements accusing the nun of being "foul mouthed" for criticizing the government.
The lawyers argued that Sister Fox had been working in the country for the past 27 years and has only been persecuted by Duterte's administration. The motion appealed to the bureau to be "objective enough and consider her arguments, not public pronouncements by the president."
The nun said she would continue to work for the poor in the Philippines as long as legal remedies can extend her stay in the country. "This legal battle cannot hinder me from doing what I am doing best. I cannot be deterred in amplifying the voice of the poor while struggling with my own fight," she told ucanews.com.
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, which Sister Fox's led for eight years, said the deportation order against the nun "mirrors the deplorable state of the country." The group called on the government "to respect the missionary commitment" of the Catholic nun who only opts "to witness and shepherd the poor."
Sister Fox was originally arrested and detained overnight on April 16 over accusations of joining illegal political activities when she participated in an investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Mindanao.
On April 25, the immigration bureau revoked her missionary visa. She was ordered to leave the country but was given a reprieve on May 25.
Source: Union of Catholic Asian News Limited [UCAN]