Manila, Philippines – Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox should be deported from the Philippines within 30 days, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Friday.
The deportation, however, would be temporarily held off if Sister Fox’s camp files a motion for reconsideration before the deadline.
“According to the Omnibus rules, (deportation) order is final and executory within thirty days unless a motion of reconsideration is filed,” BI spokeswoman Dana Sandoval told reporters via phone patch.
“If they will file a motion for reconsideration, according to the Omnibus rules, they should file it in 30 days,” she said.
Sandoval said that Sister Fox’s fate would depend on the motion for reconsideration, and if her camp decides to elevate it to higher offices such as the Department of Justice (DOJ).
“We will follow what the DOJ orders us,” the BI spokeswoman said. The BI is an attached agency of the DOJ.
Duterte’s tirades vs Sister Fox a factor
Sandoval said President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against Sister Fox, among them his remarks that the Australian nun was “undesirable,” had been a factor in the BI’s decision to deport her.
However, she clarified that “the decision delved more on (Sister Fox’s) involvement in partisan activities. President Duterte’s statements were just part of it.”
“(Duterte) mentioned that Sister Fox is already an undesirable alien, and we saw that as part of his power to deport or expel an alien,” Sandoval explained.
“Duterte’s statements just covered three paragraphs of the decision. The rest of the resolution is on her involvement in partisan political acts,” she added.
Government ‘systematically harassing’ critics
Meanwhile, Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said Sister Fox’s looming deportation has confirmed the “suspicion” that the government is “systematically harassing people who criticise their policies.”
“They consider Sister Fox a threat because of her defense of the rights of the Lumads who are being persecuted or driven from their lands on account of the government’s support for mining companies,” Bastes said.
“We know that thousands of Lumad are leaving their homes because of the military accusing the Lumad of being communists,” the bishop lamented.
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, on the other hand, recognized Sister Fox’s history of serving poor Filipinos for over 27 years.
“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,” Pabillo lamented.
“Why is it afraid of fact-finding missions if its policies are good as it claims? This is another instance of creeping authoritarianism,” he said.