Bishops appeal for Catholic sister expelled from the Philippines
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
On April 27, the President of the Philippine’s Conference of Bishops, Bishop Romulo Valles, issued an appeal to that country’s government, asking for a revocation of the expulsion order against Sr Patricia Fox.
Sr Patricia Fox’s Visa revoked
On April 23, Sr Patricia Fox’s visa was revoked by the Bureau of Immigration. Deemed an “undesirable alien”, she has 30 days to leave or face deportation. The Bureau claims that Sr Fox has been involved in political activities, and her visa is strictly limited to missionary work. On April 16, prior to the revocation order, the Bureau had detained Sr Patricia. They had to released her after 22 hours due to the strong outcry from various sources.
Sr Patricia Fox is moved by the Love of Christ
“We sincerely make an appeal that the authorities may make a reconsideration of their order for Sr. Patricia Fox to leave the country,” Bishop Valles said. “We believe further that she is moved to serve our people by the love of Christ.”
Sr Fox’s lawyer, Jobert Pahilga, has criticized how quickly the order was issued as well as the lack of due process. Antonette Mangrobang, spokesperson for the Bureau, says that there was no need that Sr Patricia be heard because revoking a foreigner’s visa remains within the discretion of the Bureau. “The issuance and grant of a visa is a privilege, not a right, hence a hearing is not necessary in visa forfeiture proceedings,” Mangrobang said in a text message. “The foreigner may file his or her motion for reconsideration.”
Mr Pahilga intends to submit such a motion within the week. They are prepared to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.
Sr Patricia’s work in the Philippines
According to Sr Patricia, and many others, she has not done anything to merit the Bureau’s action. At 71, Australian-born Sr Fox has served in the Philippines for 27 years. According to her own words, she has been helping “uplift the livelihood of farmers” and advocates with them for their rights to land, livelihood, peace, justice and security”. Others have characterized Sister as dedicated to the oppressed and marginalized.
Her arrest by the immigration bureau came soon after she took part in a human rights fact-finding mission in the south of the country.