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BI orders Sr. Pat’s deportation; lawyers to file motion for reconsideration

The Bureau of Immigration has ordered the deportation of Australian missionary Sr Patricia Anne Fox for allegedly violating the limitations and conditions of her stay in the Philippines as a missionary visa holder.

In a resolution received by Fox’s lawyers Thursday, July 19, the BI said Fox violated Commonwealth Act No. 163, otherwise known as The Philippine Immigration Act of 1940, making her “undesirable” in the Philippines.

The BI said the nun, a member of the congregation Notre Dame de Sion and coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Central Luzon, “illegally engaged and interfered in Philippine political activities” in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The BI Resolution sent to Fox’s lawyers.

Last April 16, BI agents arrested and detained Sr Patricia Fox after she participated in a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindanao.

Fox and her lawyers explained that her defense of human rights and campaign for land reform are religious in nature.

The nun’s troubles began after President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened her with deportation earlier this year. The president has also repeatedly derided Fox in subsequent speeches, even calling the nun’s God as “stupid”.

Fox, however, gained support from many churches as well as strangers. The Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives later filed a resolution for her naturalization as a Filipino.

Motion for reconsideration

Atty. Ma Sol Taule, one of Fox’s lawyers, told Kodao they are considering filing a motion for reconsideration at the BI on Monday, July 23.

“[Fox’s] legal team is dismayed [with the BI resolution]. The BI’s decision is wrong, Sr. Pat has been doing her missionary work in the Philippines for the past 27 years undisturbed by any deportation case,” Taule said.

Taule added that helping the poor is not a risk to public interest, peace or order and that, in fact, the government must thank [Fox] for her selfless service to the oppressed Filipino people.

“Duterte has no basis to say that Sr Pat is an undesirable alien, unless his definition of undesirability is helping the poor,” Taule added.

The lawyer said the Fox’s missionary work with the poor is not defiance to the [Duterte] government but a firm solidarity to the poor and their struggles. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Sr. Pat: You have to do something

By April Burcer

“You have to do something,” Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS said during a solidarity forum held at the Ateneo de Manila University last June 29, Friday.

“You can’t stay numb when there are massive human rights abuses, injustices and poverty,” the missionary said at the forum entitled D’yandi, about the breakdown of the peace talks, injustices and human rights abuses plaguing the country.

Fox said that the challenge for church members is the determination what the role of the Church is when there are injustices, poverty and human rights abuses.

Fox has been the subject of personal tirades by President Rodrigo Duterte who infamously said that the nun’s God is stupid.

“We do have a little difference with the President about who God is,” the nun said, adding she is being forced to confine herself to church activities.

“They said missionaries like me should only be in barangays, teaching church doctrines, not be involved with the issues of society,” Fox said.

But the nun said she will continue her missionary work with the poor sectors of Philippine society.

“I cannot not be involved with the people who are oppressed, who are victims of injustice or of war.  My belief is (the poor people are) who God is,” she explained.

The missionary emphasized the need to be aware of the issues in the society, looking into the system and doing something about it.

“That’s what I thought I was doing. At this stage, the government doesn’t agree with this,” she said, referring to the attacks the government has been throwing at her.

Farmers and justice

Fox has been working with farmers and the poor for more than 27 years and she said she learned so much in the Philippines, especially the plight of the farmers.

“Why are industrious farmers still poor? Over the time I learned there were problems. There were people who said they own the land but farmers have been tilling that land for a long time so how can it be their land? The farm lands are far and the roads then are rough. How do you get your produce to the market? You have to sell to a trader at a loss,” she said.

She also worked with farmers of Hacienda Luisita and other missionaries on a fact-finding mission where some of her colleagues were arrested.

However, this did not stop Fox from continuing with her work.

“I believe that is part of our mission. How can we have peace, how can we have justice, if there’s no justice for the farmers?” she asked. #

 

‘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. #

Pray for the evil spirit in Malacañan – Bishop

By April Burcer

A Roman Catholic bishop urged members of the Church to let their voices be heard against the killings of priests as well as against all other extra-judicial killings in the country.

“Stand up. Speak out. That’s where we are lacking right now,” Pabillo said during his homily at a special Mass celebrated at the Quiapo Basilica Monday evening.

“The people are asking, ‘Why is the Church silent?’ The public does not expect church people to be armed with guns. They expect us to speak out –bishops, priests, nuns and lay groups,” he added.

Pabillo said with the faithfuls’ voices speaking together, they don’t have to shout loudly but still be heard.

“The whole country will hear that killing is evil, that telling lies is bad, that cursing is unacceptable, that quo warranto is illegal, that we don’t want Cha-Cha, and that we should not give the Philippines to China,” the prelate said.

Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte spoke against the Church’s God and the hypocrisy of its leaders and priests.

“So huwag kang maniwala ‘yang Katoliko. Hindi ako naniniwala ng Katoliko. ‘Yang Adam and Eve na ‘yan. Tingnan mo. Pagka hindi… Kung ‘yan ang Diyos ng Katoliko, torpe ‘yan. Mag hanap ka ng Diyos na tama,” Duterte said. (So don’t believe the Catholics. I don’t believe in the Catholics. That Adam and Eve story, you see…If that’s the God of the Catholics, that is stupid. Better that you find a right One)
Duterte was a baptized Roman Catholic.
In his homily, Pabillo urged the public to pray and fast more because “the evil spirit in Malacañan can only be driven away by prayers of faith.”

The Mass was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony at the historic Plaza Miranda led by various church and human rights groups for the three Roman Catholic priests killed under the Duterte government.

Father Richmond Nilo of Nueva Ecija, retired priest Father Tito Paez and Father Mark Ventura of Cagayan have been killed in the past six months.

“There is a culture of killing that is happening now in our country. They are killing our respect for people, they are killing our respect women, and they are killing our respect for the law. The very people who should be upholding the law are the very ones who are breaking them,” activist nun Sr Mary John Mananzan, OSB said.

The event was also participated in by Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox and faith-based groups such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Iglesia Filipina Independiente, United Church of Christ in the Philippines, Nicodemus, Workers’ Resistance Against Tyranny and for Human Rights, and Kalipunan ng Kristiyanong Kabataan.

The event ended with the announcement of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) reversal of the Bureau of Immigration’s order deporting Fox. #

Makabayan bloc proposes Filipino citizenship for Sr Pat

The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representative has filed a bill proposing to make a nun under threat of being deported a Filipino citizen.

The parties that include Bayan Muna, ACT Teachers’ Party. Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan and Anakpawis said Sr Patricia Fox of the Notre Dame of Sion said she deserves Filipino citizenship for giving a big part of her life to poor Filipinos.

“Congress has granted Filipino citizenship to foreigners who donated schools or multi-purpose halls to Filipino communities, but Sr Pat gave countless Filipino farmers and indigenous peoples a big part of her life,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

“It is but right for us Filipinos to recognize this and show our appreciation by making her one of us Filipinos,” Zarate said.

Fox, an Australian missionary in the Philippines has been in the country in the past 27 years, one time becoming the Central Luzon coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines.

Her congregation was invited to conduct missionary work in the country by the late Prelature of Infanta Bishop Julio X. Labayen.

Fox incurred the ire of President Rodrigo Duterte by participating in a fact-finding mission in Mindanao earlier this year that documented human rights violations under martial law in the island.

She has since been arrested by the Bureau of Immigration and subsequently ordered to leave the country. She won a reprieve from the Department of Justice that said the order must be investigated further.

In asking Congress to grant Fox Filipino citizenship, Makabayan said the nun was accepted by the local communities she served and treated as one of their own.

“Instead of prosecuting and deporting Sr Pat through false charges, the government should instead recognize and acknowledge her sacrifices in almost three decades of her selfless service to the Filipino people,” Zarate said.

Zarate added that their bill is a response to the call of many farmers, fisherfolk and indigenous people whose lives were touched and helped by the nun. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

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 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.

Sr Pat’s message to supporters

Sr. Patricia Fox of the Sisters of the Notre Dame of Sion issued this statement after her release from the Bureau of Immigration last April 17.

President Rodrigo Duterte has admitted in a speech yesterday that the nun’s arrest and detention were upon his orders.

Nonetheless, Fox said she intends to stay in the Philippines to continue her mission in helping the poor.

Watch this video by Nadja de Vera of the Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura.

Mensahe ni Sr. Patricia Fox para sa lahat ng sumusumoprta sa kanya. #HandsOffSrPat

Posted by Nadja De Vera on Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sr Pat Fox and her people

The Philippine government must have thought her subversive and wanted her punished.

Last April 16, Bureau of Immigration (BI) agents arrested and detained Sr Patricia Fox of the congregation Notre Dame de Sion. The arrest may have stemmed from her recent participation in a human rights fact-finding mission in Mindanao that so-rankled the military. Australian by birth, tall, white and blond, she was obviously a foreigner who they must have thought has no business participating in political activities, particularly those that point out the Rodrigo Duterte regime’s many human rights violations.

But the military and the BI could not be more wrong. Not only did Sr Pat make the Philippines her home for 27 years, she dedicated her mission to helping farmers in their agrarian reform struggles. A volunteer of the peasant group Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura in Central Luzon and a human rights defender of long-standing, she has long been considered a compatriot by the farmers and the workers. For them, the kindly nun is more Filipino than most.

When news of her arrest broke out, lawyers and human rights workers rushed to the BI office in Manila to support her. Not long after, nuns and priests followed. Before the night was over, a bishop, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, came.

Still, the BI refused to let her go. The agency wanted the elderly nun investigated for being an “undesirable alien.” Word went round that the government wanted her deported.

Sr Patricia Fox, NDS upon her release from detention. (SINAGBAYAN–Sining na Naglilingkod sa Bayan photo)

It only galvanized more support for the beleaguered nun. This morning, the rally in downtown Manila organized to defend judicial independence and to denounce US bombing in Syria made a detour to the BI to call for Sr Pat’s release. Before long, more nuns visited and yet another bishop, Caloocan Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Yniguez, came. Prominent activists and legislators also arrived. It must have been shocking to the BI to witness that their unassuming prisoner is well-loved by many, both prominent and humble, young and old.

Outside of BI, statements flew fast and thick. It did not only come from Manila or from Central Luzon where she does her Godly work. It came from as far sa Mindanao and abroad. Social media lit up with condemnations of her arrest and calls for her release. Photos of her remaining calm and even smiling were shared widely. Politicians who do not care about her work also condemned her arrest.

At three o’clock this afternoon, the BI had no choice but to let Sr Pat go. Still, they threatened her with more investigations. Sr Pat’s troubles with the Duterte regime is just beginning it seems.

Outside of BI’s gates, the nun was mobbed both by supporters and the media. Yet there she was, smiling and radiant. It must have been an ordeal for a 71-year old and frail-looking woman to be arrested and detained for more than 24 hours. This early, though, it is clear who is losing in this struggle. This early, it appears it is this tyrannical government and its highhandedness that is undesirable. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)