Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he ordered investigation of Australian nun

Australian nun Patricia Fox (centre) speaks to media after being released from custody at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila, Philippines, on April 17, 2018.
Australian nun Patricia Fox (centre) speaks to media after being released from custody at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila, Philippines, on April 17, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (REUTERS, AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday (April 18) he ordered the investigation into a 71-year-old Australian nun for "disorderly conduct", justifying it as a legal move against "undesirable" foreigners.

Sister Patricia Fox, a coordinator of a Philippine congregation of Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion, was taken from her house this week and detained at the immigration bureau in Manila for almost 24 hours.

She was released on Tuesday pending further investigations.

Fox, a long-time resident of the Philippines, had taken part in rallies seeking the release of political prisoners and urging Philippine authorities to respect human rights.

She joined an international fact-finding mission in the southern Philippines earlier this month to look into reported violations of the rights of farmers and indigenous people, her lawyer said.

"I ordered her to be investigated, not deported at once, not arrested, but to invite her to an investigation for disorderly conduct," Duterte said during the change of command ceremony of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Duterte said he would not be insulted by religious personalities and foreigners.

"It's a violation of sovereignty," he said, accusing Fox of bad-mouthing his administration.

"You do not have that right to criticise us. Do not insult my country. We never did that to Australia. We never did that to (a) European country. Why don't you criticise your own government, the way you handle the refugees, hungry and dying and you turn them back to the open sea," he said.

Duterte warned that foreigners who "malign and defame" the government would be arrested.

On Sunday, Manila deported Italian Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary-general of the Party of European Socialists, who had previously condemned "extra-judicial killings" in Duterte's anti-drug crackdown.