MANILA (UCAN): Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox, who was ordered by the Philippine authorities to leave the country by May 25, was given a 10-day extension by the country’s Justice Department on May 28.
However, Sister Fox said it was a “temporary victory.”
Menardo Guevarra, the secretary for justice ordered the immigration bureau to comment on Sister Fox’s petition for review within the 10 day period.
The sister contested that she was not given due process when the Bureau of Immigration downgraded her missionary visa to a temporary visitor’s pass.
“If I do not contest the government’s order, it could become a bad precedent,” she said on May 25, adding that missionaries who come to the Philippines will face the same predicament.
On May 23, the immigration bureau rejected the sister’s appeal for reinstatement of her missionary visa. Sister Fox is the regional superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion in the Philippines.
The bureau also dismissed the claims of lack of due process saying its decision was “final.”
Sister Fox said she was exercising her right to due process and would not leave. She said she would challenge the Philippine government’s “erroneous definition of apostolic and missionary work.”
“I was supposed to be given the chance to answer the accusations, but the government abused its power and created its own interpretation of the Church’s mandate,” she said.
The 71-year-old Australian missionary was arrested on April 16 and detained overnight before an order to leave the country was issued.
The immigration bureau later revoked Sister Fox’s missionary visa on April 23 for allegedly participating in “partisan political activities.”
It also “deactivated” her alien certificate of registration.
Immigration bureau spokesperson, Dana Sandoval, warned that Sister Fox could be banned from entering the Philippines again if she defies the order to leave.
Sandoval said new deportation proceedings would be initiated against the sister if she fails to comply with the order for her to leave the country by May 25.
As of now, Sister Fox can return to the country as a tourist pending the resolution of her existing deportation case and if she is not blacklisted by the bureau.
“According to the order, (the bureau) will initiate deportation proceedings in case of non-compliance,” Sandoval said.
Sister Fox’s lawyer was set to file a petition with the Department of Justice on May 25 to challenge the immigration bureau’s order.
“(She) has the right to be accorded due process and equal protection under the law,” said lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, adding that the case has “far-reaching implications on other foreigners in the Philippines.”