MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration reaffirmed its intention to deport an Australian missionary nun after earlier ordering her to leave the country.
The bureau Aug. 30 dismissed a motion for reconsideration filed by Sister Patricia Fox’s lawyers, saying it failed to raise new matters that could warrant the reversal of the expulsion order, ucanews.com reported.
Bureau spokeswoman Dana Krizia Sandoval said Fox has 30 days on receipt of the order before it can be considered final and executory.
In a statement, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, however, said the nun may not be immediately deported because the deportation order still can be subject to appeal.
He said the issue also could reach the courts should Fox opt to file a petition after all administrative remedies before the executive branch are exhausted.
“Any adverse ruling from the (Justice Department or the Office of the President) may be reviewed by the courts,” Guevarra said.
The Bureau of Immigration earlier said Fox, Philippine superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, had violated the limitations and conditions of her missionary visa. It cited photographs showing that she had taken part in various political activities since 2013.
In a statement, the bureau also said it had considered President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statements that branded Fox an undesirable alien for having joined political rallies.
“In fact, the president publicly admitted that it was upon his instructions to investigate Fox for disorderly conduct for participating in rallies,” the statement said.
In June, the Department of Justice said Fox could continue to perform her duties as a missionary until her visa expired in September.
Fox was arrested April 16 and detained overnight before an order to leave the country was issued. The Immigration Bureau later revoked Fox’s missionary visa on April 23 for allegedly participating in partisan political activities.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon expressed disappointment over the latest decision, saying “it was ironic that this administration drives away a holy person while coddling drug lords.”
The prelate said the deportation order against Fox confirms that the Duterte administration is harassing critics.
Bastes said the government considers the nun a threat because of her defending the rights of tribal people who are being driven off their lands.