Immigration orders deportation of Australian nun

Australian Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox speaks the press during her release from detention at the Immigration headquarters in Manila on April 17, 2018. — AFP

By Dane Angelo M. Enerio

The Bureau of Immigration on Thursday ordered for Australian missionary Patricia Ann Fox to be deported and to be barred from re-entering the country after finding her guilty of violating the conditions of her visa.

In a 10-page resolution dated July 19, the BI said, “Fox violated the limitation and condition of her Missionary Visa which allowed her to engage in missionary/religious work, not political activities in the Philippines.”

The BI added: “Her presence in the country poses a risk to public interest.”

“Records show that Fox was granted a CA 613, Section 9(g) missionary visa on 21 July 2016 and valid until 05 September 2018 with a limitation that she will render her missionary work in Barangay Amihan, Quezon City,” the BI’s resolution read.

It pointed out: “However, Fox engaged and interfered in political activities from north (Tarlac) to south (South Cotabato) of the Philippines. She works outside of her community.”

“Fox’s attendance and participation in protest rallies, fact-finding missions, and press conferences, which tackle political and human rights issues against the government, and sponsored no less by labor or cause-oriented groups, are evidently beyond the ‘nature’ or authorized duties and responsibilities for which she was assigned as a missionary worker as represented by the Congregation and approved by the BI,” the resolution read.

According to the BI, if Ms. Fox was authorized to attend these activities as part of her missionary work then that “should have been disclosed to the Bureau at the time of the application of her missionary visa.”

“Failure of [Ms. Fox’s congregation], Sisters of our Lady of Sion, to inform the Bureau that respondent Fox would perform activities beyond her assigned duties denied the latter of a basis to intelligentyl asses and evaluate the petition. Such failure to inform either constitutes gross misrepresentation or neglect in violation of Sec. 20(a) of CA 613,” the BI said.

The BI explained, “to allow respondent Fox to participate in political rallies or activities would open the floodgates for other aliens unbridled right to criticize government by joining rallies to the detriment of public peace and order.”

Sought for comment, Ms. Fox’s lawyer, Sol Taule reporters in a text message, “we will file (a) motion for reconsideration.”

“We are dismayed because we articulated our positition in our counter-affidavit and memorandum on the deportation case that Sister Pat did not engage in political activities. She is doing her missionary work here,” Ms. Taule said in a mix of Tagalog and English.

She added: “We will exhaust all remedies available to us.”

The BI, through agency spokesperson Dana Mengote-Sandoval, was sought for comment but did not respond as of writing.

On April 23, the BI forfeited Ms. Fox’s visa and directed her to leave the country within 30 days for allegedly engaging in political activities, with Ms. Fox submitting a reversal plea on April 30 which was dismissed on May 17.

The April 23 and May 17 orders were reversed by the Department of Justice (DoJ) on June 18, following a petition for review filed by Ms. Fox on May 25.