Manila, April 25 (IANS) The Philippines on Wednesday revoked the visa of a 71-year-old Australian nun who has been ordered to leave the country within 30 days after President Rodrigo Duterte accused her of unlawfully criticising his government.
Sister Patricia Fox, a nun belonging to the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion and a missionary in the Philippines for the past 27 years, was arrested on April 15 for allegedly participating in protest rallies against the government and released a day later, a case that triggered strong controversy.
“Her political activities violate the terms and conditions of her missionary visa, so we have withdrawn it,” the spokesperson for the Philippines Bureau of Immigration in Manila, Antonette Mangrobang, told Efe news.
Last week, Duterte said he ordered the authorities to probe the nun. The spokesperson said that Fox attended a political demonstration on April 7, among other activities.
She also said the missionary visa “does not naturally protect participation in political activities, whether for or against the government” and only allows the propagation of religious ideas and beliefs.
The Philippines law prohibiting foreigners from participating in political activities has rarely been applied. Fox’s case sparked strong protest from human rights organisations.
“The paranoid Duterte regime is afraid of an elderly nun who has been working for human rights and social justice for the poor for the past 27 years,” said local NGO Bayan, calling her expulsion “despicable and shameful”.
Fox’s legal representatives said they would file an appeal to annul the order issued by the immigration office.
According to the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the nun has been working to defend human rights and help the most underprivileged communities in several regions in the country and the local media said she opposed Duterte’s controversial “war on drugs” that has left more than 7,000 dead.
The nun’s arrest came 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 an international forum against Duterte’s anti-drug campaign.