The Department of Justice has rejected the cancellation of nun’s visa over alleged participation in political activities because it was “without legal basis”. The deportation order issued against the nun is still pending but is following a different path than the revocation of her visa.
Manila (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) has temporarily halted the expulsion order of Sister Patricia Fox, 71, allowing her to remain in the country.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday accepted the nun’s appeal to nullify the expulsion order issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI), forfeiting her missionary visa.
In April, following an investigation requested by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, BI chief Jaime Morente had ordered the nun to leave the country within 30 days.
This came after the the Sister of Our Lady of Sion was arrested for participating in “anti-government demonstrations". She was released a day later.
Sister Patricia has lived in the Philippines for 27 years, working with peasants and indigenous people.
Recently, she took part in an international investigation and solidarity mission into alleged violations of the rights of peasants and Lumad people, on the southern island of Mindanao.
The authorities accuse the nun of taking part in political meetings in the cities of Davao and Tagum.
For Guevarra, the decision to cancel her visa over alleged participation in partisan political activities was “without legal basis”.
He explained that while the immigration laws give the BI broad powers in regulating the entry and stay of aliens in the country, visa forfeiture “is not among those powers”.
“What the BI did in this case is beyond what the law provides, that is why it has to be struck down,” Guevarra said.
The DOJ chief ordered the BI “to ascertain whether the charge and the evidence against Fox make out a case for visa cancellation, for which specific grounds are stated in the law”.
“The BI treated this as a case for visa forfeiture instead of for visa cancellation. As a result, the Bureau has yet to decide whether the supposed actions of Fox do indeed justify the cancellation of her visa. It would therefore be premature for us at the DOJ to decide that matter now,” he said.
The deportation order against the religious is still pending but is thus following a different path than the revocation of the visa.
“Until a final resolution of the visa cancellation and/or deportation proceedings is reached, or until the expiration of her missionary visa, whichever comes first, Sr Fox may continue to perform her duties as a missionary in the Philippines,” he added.