Immigration bureau orders deportation of Australian nun

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 19) — The Bureau of Immigration on Thursday ordered the deportation of Australian nun Patricia Fox.

"Fox's active participation in political rallies, fact-finding missions, and conferences in various areas of the country... is contrary to the conditions laid down when she applied for a missionary visa," BI's order said.

It said to allow Fox to stay in the country despite her participation in political activities will set a bad precedent for other aliens.

"To allow Fox to participate in political rallies/activities would open the floodgates for other aliens' unbridled right to criticize government by joining rallies to the detriment of public peace and order... Her presence in the country poses a risk to public interest," BI added. It said there are other ways for foreigners to criticize the government as part of their freedom of expression.

The bureau also barred Fox's re-entry to the country by placing her on the bureau's blacklist.

Pending the Australian nun's deportation, she shall remain under BI's watchlist, which will only be lifted when she leaves the country.

The 71-year-old nun was accused of engaging in partisan political activities, which the government deemed as a violation of the terms of her stay in the country.

However, her lawyers argue that fighting for the rights of minorities is part of her missionary work. Fox's camp also maintains the gatherings she attended were not anti-government in nature.

Fox's lawyers, Sol Taule, Jobert Pahilga, and Kathy Panguban, said they are "utterly dismayed by the resolution," saying the government must instead recognize her selfless service to the oppressed sectors of the society.

"Sr. Pat's missionary work is not defiance to the government but a firm solidarity to all the struggles of the Filipino people. She has all the rights under domestic and international laws to exercise her freedom of religion and expression," they said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesperson said the law may be harsh, but it must be followed (dura lex, sed lex).

On May 25, the camp of the 71-year-old nun petitioned the Justice Department to reinstate her missionary visa and let her stay in the country.

The BI, which is under the DOJ, forfeited Fox's visa on April 23 and ordered her to leave by the end of May. On May 23, the bureau denied Fox's appeal.

President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he was behind the BI probe into Fox's "disorderly conduct." He cited BI Operations Order SBM 2015, which bars foreign tourists from engaging in political activities, "whether for or against the government."