Send off activities for Sr Patricia Fox

President Rodrigo Duterte got his wish last November 3 when Sr. Patricia Ann Fox, NDS left the Philippines for Australia after the Bureau of Immigration recalled her missionary visa and refused to renew her visitors visa.

She was feted in a series of activities that day all the way to the airport by Church groups, sectoral organizations, lawyers and activists thanking her for her nearly three decades of service to the poor.

Watch this video of these activities. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Australian lawyer says reason for deportation ‘preposterous’

Australian lawyer and human rights advocate Gill Boehringer said he has instructed his Philippine lawyers to contest allegations cited by the Bureau of Immigration in planning to deport him.

Boehringer, tagged as having associated himself with communist groups in the Philippines, is being prevented from entering the country since August 8 upon arrival from Sydney.

“I have instructed my lawyers to contest all allegations against me, and to seek the lifting of the ‘blacklist’, the ‘watchlist’ and the exclusion order,” he said.

The former Macquerie University law school dean and professor in a statement said the allegation by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency that he is associated with underground groups in the country is “preposterous”.

“It seems that in the Philippines today almost anyone can be labelled a terrorist or in association with terrorists. I deny the accusation. I certainly am not a supporter of terrorism from whatever source,” he said.

Boehringer said he did not attend the anti-Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation rally in the Philippines in November 2015 and there was no rally in February 2018 when he observes Lumad schools activities in Mindanao.

He explained that his participation in Lumad school activities was based only on his special interests in teaching and research.

“I believe there is no basis for my exclusion from the Philippines in what was an educational experience for myself, the others who travelled with me into the mountain district, and also, I like to think, for those we met with there,” he said.

Boehringer admitted he had been critical of policies of successive governments since he became an international observer of the 2007 and 2010 elections but denied these as activities of a terrorist.

“Rather, they might more appropriately be considered an attempt to make a rational contribution within the vibrant national discourse about how democracy can be strengthened, the rule of law protected and social justice ensured,” he said.

“I would ask the government to recognize me as a person who has visited the country over many years with no subversive intent. I have sought in an intellectual way, through public dialogue, to aid in the maintenance of the rule of law and the structures and processes of democracy,” he added.

Boehringer thanked his lawyers and his doctors for taking care of him throughout his ordeal at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, as well as the individuals and supporters who called on the Rodrigo Duterte government to allow him entry to the Philippines on medical and humanitarian grounds, to no avail.

Boehringer travelled to the Philippines to visit his Filipino wife.

Meanwhile, Boehringer’s physician, Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes, slammed the BI on its decision to deport the 84-year old lawyer.

“The Bureau of Immigration is being heartless in pursuing the deportation of Prof. Gill Boehringer, Rivera-Reyes of the Health Action for Human Rights said.

She said Boehringer “has a history of an almost fatal pulmonary embolism. Aside from his risk of having deep vein thrombosis, he is currently suffering from cellulitis on both legs,” she explained.

Human rights group Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines, which counts Boehringer as a member, also said it condemned his detention and planned deportation. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Gov’t bars ailing Australian human rights lawyer from entering country

The government set its sights on another Australian human rights lawyer, this time preventing him from entering the Philippines.

Former Macquerie University law professor and long-time advocate for human rights in the Philippines Gill Boehringer is being held by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 since midnight of August 8 upon his arrival from Sydney.

The professor is set to be deported after being told he was blacklisted for allegedly joining protest actions and fact-finding missions in the Philippines, Karapatan reported in an alert.

Boehringer is the second Australian lawyer and human rights campaigner who ran afoul with the Rodrigo Duterte government after Australian Notre Dame de Sion missionary Sr Patricia Anne Fox who is also in danger of being deported after staying for 27 years in the Philippines.

Boehringer, 84 years old, with dual citizenship in the Australia and US, is returning to the country to be with his Filipino wife.

Sources told Kodao that the BI originally wanted to deport Boehringer on the earliest flight back to Australia Wednesday but the lawyer was sick, even throwing up at the airport.

Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes of the Health Alliance for Democracy rushed to Boehringer’s aid, accompanied by Gabriela Representative Emmi De Jesus and fellow lawyer Ma. Sol Taule yesterday.

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers also reportedly requested Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to defer Boehringers deportation to allow the professor to physically recover before boarding a flight back to Sydney.

The Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights condemned government for blacklisting the elderly lawyer and refusing him entry back to the Philippines.

“The Duterte regime is unsettled by the international clamor against its anti-Filipino policies. It works tirelessly to prevent individuals from exposing the gross rights violations happening in the country, cowardly hiding behind the rhetoric of exercising the country’s sovereign will,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Karapatan said Boehringer has been actively campaigning for human rights issues in the Philippines since the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo presidency, including the plight of the Lumad in resource-rich areas in Mindanao and militarization of their communities which has intensified with the martial law declaration.

“It is deeply alarming how foreign nationals who express international solidarity with the Filipino people are barred from the country. The real crooks, on the other hand, are given a free pass in and out of the country,” noted Palabay, adding that BI’s  Operations Order SBM 2015-025 against foreign nationals be immediately repealed.

“This is the Duterte regime’s paranoia. The regime is showing its cracks, (being) defensive and scared to be buried under the weight of its own crimes against the Filipino people,” Palabay concluded. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘The fight goes on’ – Sister Pat

By April Burcer

“A small step towards success,” was how Sister Patricia Fox, NDS described the Department of Justice’ (DOJ) decision to declare null and void Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) order revoking her missionary visa and order for her to leave the country within 30 days.

She was grateful for the June 18 DOJ decision, saying, “I was very relieved because I was unsure what my status would be after today. I’m relieved that the Secretary of Justice came out with that decision.”

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra nullified the BI’s forfeiting of Fox’s visa, saying that forfeiture of visa is not part of the Immigration Law’s implementing rules and regulations. Sr Pat received the good news while preparing for a Mass at Quiapo and a candle lighting event at Plaza Miranda.

Sr Pat has been staying in the Philippines for more than 27 years and helping farmers, workers, indigenous peoples, and the poor in their fight against human rights violations, poverty and other injustices.

Last April, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a probe into Sr Pat’s activities in the country, accusing her further of having a ‘foul mouth’ and ‘disorderly conduct.’ She was subsequently taken to the BI and detained for nearly 24 hours.

Her detention caused both a national and international uproar. Her supporters belied the Australian nun ever called for Duterte’s ouster nor has she ever spoke ill against the Philippines and its people. People from all walks of life expressed their support to the beleaguered nun and made her an instant celebrity.

On numerous occasions, the nun was driven to happy tears by the outpouring of support for her and expression of gratitude for having served the Filipinos. In one instance, youngsters shouted “We love you, Sr Pat!” from their car window when they recognized her riding another vehicle.

What now?

“The thing is that the DOJ said the BI didn’t have legal basis to cancel my visa. But as far as I know, the BI is still pursuing a deportation case,” Sr Pat said when asked what her next step is.

Guevarra said that Sr Pat’s case will be treated as visa cancellation where evidence will have to be presented during the hearings.

On May 30, lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc of the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking to grant Filipino citizenship to Sr Pat.

Composed of Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Gabriela Women’s Party Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas and Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, the bloc announced that the citizenship will be a fitting recognition for all the services the Australian has contributed to the Filipino people.

When asked whether she has plans to continue her work even with the deportation case still ongoing, Sr Pat answered, “As long as I can.”

In her message during an Eid’l Fit’r Solidarity Affair last week, Sr Pat said that the social injustices are caused by a system that does not recognize the rights of the people, which is also the root of the problems she is facing right now.

“I am already a Filipino, I want to stay here,” she repeatedly told her supporters. #

Sr Pat’s lawyers explain next moves after deportation order

In a press conference after the Bureau of Immigration ordered Sr Patricia Fox’s deportation, her  volunteer lawyers explained their next moves to allow the nun to stay in the country.

Various political and sectoral organizations also expressed their support for the beleaguered nun.

During the press conference, Sr Pat broke into tears due the deluge of support she has been receiving since President Rodrigo Duterte threatened her with deportation.

Groups hold testimonial for Sr Pat

As they awaited for the Bureau of Immigration decision on her deportation case, various groups held a testimonial for Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS for her nearly three decades of service to poor communities in the Philippines at the Baclaran Church compound last Saturday.

The Solidarity with the Poor Network, The Redemptorist Church, Promotion of Church People’s Response and the Lets’ Organize for Democracy and Integrity held a cultural solidarity program called “Journeying with the Poor” before a Mass and a Solidarity Agape. (Video and photo by M. Montajes)

Groups launch campaign for Sr Pat

Various church and sectoral groups launched a campaign to defend Sr Patricia Fox, NDS from what they call is a simple harassment by the Rodrigo Duterte government.

In a gathering at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Manila in Intramuros last April 30, speakers and performers said Sr Pat was a victim of lack of due process.

They gave testimonies of the nun’s missionary work in the Philippines, adding threats to deport her are “anti-Filipino and anti-poor.”

Supporters hold rally at BI for Australian missionary

Activists held a rally in front of the Bureau of Immgration in Manila last April 26, assailing the arrest and detention of Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS.

They called on immigration officials not to deport the nun, saying she has not violated her missionary visa in expressing solidarity with farmers and peasants.

The BI nonetheless ordered Fox’s deportation in line with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s wish to deport the missionary.

Rally held at San Francisco airport in support of detained Filipino activist

Dozens of supporters held a rally at the arrival area of the San Francisco International Airport upon learning that Sandugo co-chairperson Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba was held by the United States Immigration Service and denied entry despite a valid 10-year multiple entry visa.

Aba was supposed to address church groups and go on a speaking tour about human rights violations in the Philippines.

Aba was nonetheless deported back to the Philippines on board Philippine Airlines at 12:30, San Francisco time.

He is expected to land in Manila on Friday, April 20, at six o’clock in the morning.