MANILA, Philippines (AP) - An Australian nun who irked the Philippine president for joining political rallies defied an Immigration Bureau order for her to leave the Philippines and appealed to justice officials Friday to allow her to continue her missionary work for the poor and victims of injustice.
Accompanied by fellow Catholic nuns and priests, Sister Patricia Fox and her lawyers filed the petition before the Department of Justice. Dozens of supporters held placards that read, “Hands off Sister Pat” and yelled, “No to deportation.”
“My wish is to continue the missionary work with the poor and I hope that will be the result … and for me to continue working as a missionary, as a human rights defender,” the 71-year-old Fox told journalists and supporters.
Her lawyer, Katherine Panguban, said the appeal should stop the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation from enforcing a decision to revoke Fox’s missionary visa and forcing her to leave the country after nearly three decades of missionary work for the poor, workers and tribal communities.
President Rodrigo Duterte has been hypersensitive to criticism, especially about his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs and expressions of alarm by foreign governments and human rights watchdogs. His administration barred a critical Italian politician, Giacomo Filibeck, from entering the country last month.
Last month, Duterte threatened foreigners with arrests if they insult his government in rallies. “You come here and insult us, you trample on our sovereignty. That will never happen,” said the volatile former city mayor, known for his extra tough approach to law and order.
“I assure you, if you begin to malign, defame government in any of those rallies there, I will order your arrest,” Duterte said.
Immigration Bureau chief Jaime Morente, however, said Wednesday his agency turned down Fox’s appeal for the reversal of an order revoking her missionary visa and ordered her to leave the country in 30 days, adding that no other appeals would be considered....Immigration spokeswoman Dana Sandoval said Fox has to leave the country on Friday. If she will not and there will be no order from higher officials to let her stay longer, the bureau will start deportation proceedings, she said.Fox’s lawyers argue that she has not engaged in political activities as the government claims. She said Wednesday her religious mission brought her to poor communities of people fighting for land, justice and survival, destitute Filipinos who are supporting her now.“I’ve always been quiet about it, but faithful to it because I believe that’s where church people should be, with the people, who are struggling for their rights,” Fox said, fighting back tears. “At this stage I’m sort of a little emotional in part because