Sister Patricia Fox to be deported

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
Sister Patricia Fox to be deported
In a 10-page resolution yesterday, the BI Board of Commissioners (BOC) said that aside from deporting Fox, her name was also included in the bureau’s blacklist.
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — After more than three months of fighting to stay in the Philippines, 72-year-old Australian nun Patricia Fox lost her battle, with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) issuing an order for her deportation. 

In a 10-page resolution yesterday, the BI Board of Commissioners (BOC) said that aside from deporting Fox, her name was also included in the bureau’s blacklist.

The BOC found “Fox, Patricia Anne, an Australian national, in violation of the limitations and conditions of Commonwealth Act 613, Section 9 (g) missionary visa and undesirable under Article 2711, Section 69 and order her deportation to Australia, subject to her submission of all appropriate clearance and the inclusion of her name in the BI’s blacklist, thus barring her re-entry into the country.”

 Fox is the head of the provincial superior of the Our Lady of Sion Sisters. The missionary visa, which allowed her in the country for 27 years, is only valid until Sept. 5 this year.

 The BI said there were photographs showing that she engaged in several partisan political activities sometime in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018—including those where she reportedly demanded for the release of political prisoners, joined the rallies for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, and a labor rally in Davao City.

 She was also found to be one of the main participants in the press conference: “Trump and Duterte, hands off rights defenders” and in another press conference “Stop Killing Farmers” aimed at protesting, among others, the alleged plunder in Mindanao.

In crafting their resolution, the BI took into consideration President Duterte’s earlier statements that branded Fox as an undesirable alien by joining political rallies. “In fact, the President even publicly admitted that it was upon his instructions to investigate Fox for disorderly conduct for participating in rallies.”

 “By such declaration, the President has exercised his plenary power granted to him to expel or deport an alien for being undesirable,” the BI explained, citing the Administrative Code of 1987, Book III (Office of the President), Title I (Powers of the President), Sections 8 and 11 in relation to Commonwealth Act 613 (The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, as amended), Section 52 and Act 2711 (Revised Administrative Code of 1917), Section 69.

 “The power to deport aliens is lodged in the President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Commissioner of Immigration exercises this power, however, as the qualified political agent of the President. As the administrative alter-ego of the President in deportation cases, the actions of the Commissioner of Immigration relative to the arrest and detention of undesirable aliens are, unless reprobated or disapproved by the President, presumptively the acts of the President,” the ruling read.

It added that, “as the qualified agent of the President, the Commissioner of Immigration has charge of the administration of all laws relating to the immigration of aliens in the Philippines, including the enforcement of rules and regulations pertaining to the arrest, detention, investigation and deportation of undesirable aliens.”

 Last April 16, on the strength of a mission order issued by BI Commissioner Jaime Morente, Fox was invited to the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila City after the bureau’s Intelligence Division received information that the Australian nun has allegedly been attending protest rallies, fact-finding missions, jail visits, and supporting and involving herself in assemblies against the government.

She was allowed to leave the BI the following day after she surrendered her passport. The BI also issued an order forfeiting Fox’s missionary visa and downgrading it to a tourist visa and directing her to leave the country in 30 days.

 But Fox’s camp filed a petition for review before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last May 25, questioning the BI’s April 23 and May 17 orders, which denied her motion for reconsideration and supplemental motion for reconsideration, respectively.

On June 18, the DOJ granted her petition for review and declared the BI’s April 23 and May 17 ruling null and void for having been issued without legal basis and reinstating her missionary visa but without prejudice to the result of a separate cancellation or deportation proceedings.

Fox’s lawyer, Sol Taule, said they are studying the BI’s order and considering the filing of a motion for reconsideration before the DOJ to challenge the bureau’s deportation order.

“We are utterly dismayed by the resolution of the BI…Sr. Pat has been doing her missionary work in the Philippines for the past 27 years undisturbed by any deportation case. Helping the poor is not a risk to public interest, peace or order. In fact, the government must recognize her selfless service to the oppressed sectors of this society,” the lawyers of Sister Fox said.

They added that the nun “does not deserve this kind of persecution.”

 Late yesterday afternoon, Fox received a text message informing her of the BI’s order.

 She said that, “of course I am disappointed but that is the order. We will look at what we can do about it… I will talk to the lawyers tomorrow (Friday).”

Asked to comment, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the BI merely implemented the law.

“That’s the law. Dura lex sed lex (the law may be harsh but it’s the law),” Roque said in a text message. – With Alexis Romero

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