Malacañang spokesman admits: Aussie nun’s arrest a ‘mistake’

Published April 18, 2018, 10:55 AM

by AJ Siytangco


By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang said that there must have been a mistake made during the arrest of Australian nun Sister Patricia Fox by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) earlier this week.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the statement after the BI was slammed for the arrest of the 71-year-old nun for “attending protest rallies and engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations.”

Sr. Patricia Fox (right) (MANILA BULLETIN)
Sr. Patricia Fox (right)

Fox, a missionary with the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion, was arrested by BI officials from the mission house in Quezon City Monday afternoon.

Roque, in a TV interview, said that there is a law that foreigners should not interfere with local politics. However, he said that there must have been a mistake in the case of the Australian nun.

“Meron naman pong batas talaga iyan, na ang mga dayuhan hindi dapat naghihimasok sa pulitika natin, at kahit sino namang gobyerno talagang ayaw nila na manghimasok ang mga dayuhan (There really is a law that forbids foreigners from interfering with local politics, and no government would really want foreign intervention),” Roque said over GMA-7 early Wednesday morning.

“Ang pagkakaiba lang po ay mukhang nagkamali dito kay Sister Fox at siguro (The difference is, there seems to be a mistake in the case of Sister Fox and maybe) apologies are in order,” he added.

“Kasi madali naman siyang pinalabas din ng CID (Commission on Immigration and Deportation). So siguro nagkakamali din naman ng CID (She was immediately released by the CID. So maybe, the CID made a mistake, too),” he continued.

Fox was released Tuesday after it was established that she holds a valid missionary visa, proving that she is a properly documented alien. Her missionary was issued on October 15, 2017 and is valid until September 9, 2018.

According to the BI, Fox is also not covered by inquest proceedings as this will only apply to aliens arrested after being caught flagrantly violating immigration laws. The Australian nun is alleged to have taken part in protests staged by farmers in the past but she was not doing so during the time of the arrest.

However, Fox is still required to undergo preliminary investigation and must submit her counter-affidavit to the charge that she is an undesirable alien for joining protest actions.

Upon her release, Fox told reporters that she has been joining pro-human rights rallies for the farmers for their land rights. She also insisted that she has not joined any political rallies in terms of party politics.

Fox’s arrest came after the BI blocked the entry of Giacomo Filibeck of the Party of the European Socialists to the Philippines at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Sunday. He was immediately deported.

Filibeck, a critic of President Duterte’s bloody drug war, was supposed to join an Akbayan event in Cebu City.

According to Roque, the Philippine government has every right to allow or block the entry of a foreigner to the country.

“Malinaw naman po ang basehan diyan, napunta siya rito, magpa-participate sa isang political convention na pinagbabawal ng ating batas (The basis there is clear–he went here to participate in a political convention. That is not allowed),” he said.

“Wala po siyang karapatan na makapasok, at meron tayong kapangyarihan na tanggihan ang mga dayuhan na pumasok sa ating teritoryo (He has no right to enter our territory and we have the power to decline the entry of any foreigner to the country),” he added.

Read more: Australian nun with valid missionary visa freed by BI