Lawyers of Australian missionary Sr Patricia Ann Fox, NDS said they will ask the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to reconsider its denial to renew or extend the nun’s visa.
Attys. Jobert Pahilga and Ma Sol Taule said that BI is mistaken in deciding Fox’s missionary visa has long expired, explaining the 10-year extension and renewal rule should only apply to her case on the day the BI converted her tourist visa on September 5, 2014.
“[When] the BI approved the conversion of Sister Fox’s tourist visa into a missionary visa, she was given a new or a fresh period of 10 years from the said date or until 2024 to stay in the country,” the lawyers said in a statement.
In an order dated September 13, the BI denied Fox’s application to renew or extend her missionary visa, saying her current visa has long expired.
The BI cited its the Memorandum of Agreement with the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines dated November 10, 1997 which restricts missionary visa holders for up to 10 years in the country.
The BI also said it has already issued a deportation order against the nun for her alleged violations of the conditions of her missionary visa and “undesirability”.
The BI’s orders are widely seen to have stemmed after President Rodrigo Duterte’s repeated verbal attacks as well as accusations that the missionary has participated in rallies against his government.
Fox’s lawyers however said that the deportation order against Fox is not yet final and executory as it is under appeal with the Department of Justice.
“The decision to grant or deny the application for extension or renewal of her missionary visa should not be based and hinge on the order of deportation. And even Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that the decision of the BI whether to extend her missionary visa will be ‘without prejudice to the resolution of her appeal,’” the lawyers said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)