Philippines to deport Australian nun who angered President Duterte

Australian nun Patricia Fox, 71, waves upon her release outside the Bureau of Immigration headquarters in Metro Manila, Philippines, on April 17, 2018.
Australian nun Patricia Fox, 71, waves upon her release outside the Bureau of Immigration headquarters in Metro Manila, Philippines, on April 17, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (REUTERS, AFP) - The Philippines has ordered an Australian Catholic nun to leave the country in 30 days after the immigration bureau revoked her missionary visa for joining protest rallies, an immigration official said on Wednesday (April 25).

Patricia Anne Fox, a 71 year-old superior of the Notre Dame de Sion in the Philippines, a congregation of Catholic nuns, was detained for a day last week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered her investigation for "disorderly conduct". He had accused her of engaging in illegal political activities outside of her missionary work.

In a one-page order, immigration bureau head Jaime Morente asked Fox to leave the Philippines after "she was found to have engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa."

Fox, who has been in the country for more than 27 years, has 30 days to exit the Philippines after receipt of the order.

Her renewable missionary visa, which was due to expire in September 2018, was cancelled on Monday, but an immigration spokeswoman said she can still return to the mainly Catholic South-east Asian country as a tourist, not as a missionary.

"We will file a motion for reconsideration on this order," said Jobert Pahilga, a lawyer for the Australian nun. "She has not participated in any partisan activity. She is a nun."

The left-wing activist group Bayan (Nation) condemned the expulsion order of an Australian nun who "has done so much for Philippine farmers in her nearly three decades stay here".


"The Duterte regime is paranoid and afraid of an elderly nun working for human rights and social justice for the poor," Bayan leader Renato Reyes said in a statement.

"The deportation order of Sister Pat is indeed despicable and utterly shameful," said Reyes.

In a speech last week to soldiers, Duterte accused Fox of badmouthing his administration.

"It's a violation of sovereignty," Duterte said. "You do not have that right to criticise us. Do not insult my country."

His spokesman, Harry Roque, showed journalists photos of Fox speaking at farmer and labourer protest rallies in Duterte's hometown in southern Davao City early this month.

Duterte has previously launched verbal attacks against critics of his government's narcotics crackdown, which has left thousands of alleged dealers and users dead.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor launched a preliminary investigation in February into allegations of extrajudicial killings.

This prompted Duterte to withdraw from the ICC and threaten to arrest the chief prosecutor if she travels to the Philippines.

Manila also deported earlier this month Italian Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, who had previously condemned alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte's anti-drug war.