CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Philippine government tries to deport sister again

MANILA (UCAN/VaticanNews): Philippine authorities have again ordered the immediate deportation of Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox after she was declared an “undesirable alien” by the Bureau of Immigration in a 19-page resolution released on July 19, UCAN reported on July 20.
 
Bureau spokesperson, Dana Krizia Sandoval, said the board of commissioners decided that Sister Fox’s actions were “inimical to the interest of the state.”
 
A 10-page resolution found the regional superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion to be “in violation of the limitations and conditions of her missionary visa” for allegedly joining partisan political activities. 
 
She has also been put on the immigration bureau’s blacklist, barring her re-entry. 
 
Sister Fox said she was not surprised, saying the new deportation order was already expected.
 
“We will file an appeal before the Department of Justice and will seek all available legal remedies,” said Sister Fox, who is also a lawyer.
 
She expressed sadness at how the Philippine government perceives “living and working with the poor as a partisan political activity,” noting that, “To serve the poor is to amplify their voices and accompany them in their fight for their political, social, and economic rights.” 
 
She added that is part of her “missionary mandate.”
 
However, Sandoval claimed the bureau had received reports that Sister Fox attended political demonstrations, even holding banners with political messages, and wearing shirts representing leftist groups. 
 
The immigration official said joining protest rallies “in collaboration with labour or cause-oriented groups is not within the ambit of the religious visa” granted to Sister Fox, UCAN reported. 
 
“Allowing (Sister Fox) to participate in rallies would open floodgates for other aliens to join rallies to the detriment of public peace and order,” read a bureau statement. 
 
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, chairperson of the Episcopal Commission on Mission, was reported by Vatican News as saying that the order only confirmed the suspicion that the government is “systematically harassing people who criticise their policies.”
 
He called it “a very sad development” and said he was “ashamed of the government.”
 
Vatican News also reported Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila, as saying that Sister Fox, “has been serving our poor people for decades and this is how the government rewards her just because it is so insecure in what it is doing.”  He described it as “another instance of creeping authoritarianism.” 
 
The Ecumenical Bishops’ Forum called on Christian Churches to extend support to Sister Fox and to missionaries subjected to persecution because of their work with the poor.
 
“It is our responsibility as Christians to defend the faith and enlighten the government and those who judge us,” said Bishop Deogracias Iniguez, the former bishop of Kalookan.
 
“We should reiterate that the government cannot limit the definition of missionary work,” said Bishop Iniguez who heads the forum.
 
Sister Fox was arrested and detained overnight on April 16 for “joining political rallies” and the Bureau of Immigration forfeited her missionary visa on April 25, ordering her to leave the country within 30 days (Sunday Examiner, May 6). 
 
The Department of Justice reversed the order and reinstated the sister’s visa which is due to expire in September (Sunday Examiner, June 24). 
 
Sister Fox has been working in the Philippines for the past 27 years and used to head the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines for eight years.

More from this section