Philippines stops order expelling Australian nun who joined protest

Ms Patricia Anne Fox had angered Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after she was spotted at a rally in support of human rights. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippine Justice Department on Monday (June 18) struck down an order for the deportation of an Australian nun after she joined a political rally, sparking celebrations among her supporters.

The Catholic nun, Ms Patricia Anne Fox, 71, who is head of a congregation, had angered President Rodrigo Duterte after she was spotted in April at a rally in support of human rights.

Mr Duterte had accused her of "disorderly conduct", and ordered she be investigated as part of moves against "undesirable foreigners".

The immigration bureau said Ms Fox had engaged in activities not allowed under the terms of her visa and revoked it. She was due to leave on Monday.

But the Department of Justice said the bureau's order "has to be struck down" because it had acted "beyond what the law provides".

Ms Fox was not immediately available for comment.

The decision means she can stay in the Philippines until her visa expires in September.

The left-wing Bayan (Nation) group and the nun's supporters celebrated with a mass in a church in Manila.

"We are happy for Sister Pat and hope that she continues her good work for the Filipino poor," Mr Renato Reyes, Bayan secretary-general, said, thanking the Justice Department "for exercising fairness".

Ms Fox has been living in the country for more than 27 years and has been very active in poor communities.

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