Philippines releases Australian nun arrested for political activities

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Manila, April 17 (IANS) A 71-year-old Australian nun, who was detained in the Philippines over her alleged involvement in political activities, was released on Tuesday.

Sister Patricia Fox, a nun belonging to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion en Philippines, was arrested on Monday for “violating the conditions of her stay by attending protest rallies and engaging in political activities”, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration said in a statement earlier on Tuesday.

“I’ve participated in rallies to demand land rights for farmers, to release political prisoners. I call it part of our duty as the religious to support and stand for the poor. I haven’t attended rallies for politics, but for human rights,” Fox told the local media after her release.

Fox has been working in the Philippines for the past 27 years, reports Efe news.

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The Philippines authorities will be probing the allegations against the nun and might file appropriate charges against her, Fox’s lawyer Jober Ilarde Pahilga told reporters.

Over the past two decades, Fox has been working with some of the most underprivileged communities in several regions in the country, including in the southern island of Mindanao, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, who condemned her arrest.

Manila’s Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, who visited the nun at the immigration bureau, called the nun’s arrest a sign that the government was beginning to crack down on critics.

However, Immigration Bureau spokesperson Antonette Mangrobang said that the Philippines law does not allow any foreigner to participate in political activities.

The nun’s arrest comes a day after the Deputy Secretary-General of the Party of European Socialists, Giacomo Filibeck, was barred from entering the country over his participation in a human rights forum.

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Filibeck was part of an international mission in 2017, which had harshly criticised the killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign, and which had led to the inclusion of his name on a government blacklist.

–IANS

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