MANILA — The Bureau of Immigration (BI) released from its custody on Tuesday afternoon Sister Patricia Fox, an Australian missionary.
She was apprehended in Quezon City on Monday.
Commissioner Jaime Morente approved the recommendation of the BI legal division for the Catholic nun to be released for further investigation after establishing that she is a holder of a valid missionary visa, which proved that she is a properly documented alien.
Fox submitted her passport and other immigration documents showing that she was issued her missionary visa on Oct. 15 last year and is valid until Sept. 9 this year.
In a note with recommendation to Morente, BI legal division head lawyer Arvin Cesar Santos noted that while Fox was alleged to have taken part in protest actions by farmers in the past, she was not doing so at the time when BI operatives served her the mission order.
Santos explained that Fox is not covered by inquest proceedings as it will only apply to aliens arrested after being caught in flagrant violation of immigration laws.
For her part, the nun noted that she did not join anti-government rallies but only protests advocating human rights.
“Not anti-government rallies, as a religious I’ve been joining pro human rights rallies for the farmers, for their land rights, to release political prisoners. So if you call it political, I call it part of our duty as religious that we support the poor, which is supposed to be where we’re standing with the poor,” Fox said after she was released from BI custody.
“I haven’t joined political rallies in terms of party politics, but I have been active in human rights issues,” she added.
On Monday, Fox was apprehended by BI operatives pursuant to a mission order issued by Morente due to reports that she violated the conditions of her stay by engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations.
DOJ: Fox’s arrest legal
For his part, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra defended Fox’s arrest by immigration authorities.
“We shall implement our immigration laws fairly and uniformly, without regard to color, race or creed,” Guevarra said.
The Justice Secretary reminded that “like any other foreigner enjoying the privilege of staying in our country, she has to obey and comply with our laws.
“Sister Patricia’s case has nothing to do with her being a nun, nor with her personal advocacies,” the DOJ chief noted.
On Sunday, immigration authorities barred Party of European Socialist (PES) deputy secretary general Giacomo Filibeck, an Italian national, from entering the country for violating the conditions of his stay as a tourist when he came to the Philippines last year.
Filibeck came to the Philippines in October 2017 to attend a party congress of the Akbayan Partylist, a sister party of the PES where he criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
In August 2013, 20-year-old Dutch activist Thomas Van Beersum was deported after he made a police officer cry during a rally against former President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation Address.
In BI Operations Order No. SBM-2015-025 dated July 3, 2015, foreigners are prohibited from engaging in political activities in the country. With reports from Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA-northboundasia.com