By Alexandria Denisse San Juan
The legal counsel of Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox said they were dismayed with the recent order of the Bureau of Immigration to deport the nun for allegedly joining political activities in the country, adding that they will file an appeal this coming week.
“Talagang nadismaya kami sa desisyon ng BI kasi it’s totally erroneous at ridiculous sa sinasabi nilang mga argumento doon (We are really dismayed with the decision the BI because their arguments there are totally erroneous and ridiculous),” lawyer Maria Sol Taule said in a forum in Quezon City.
According to Taule, they will exhaust all legal remedies to overturn the Bureau’s resolution as they maintained that the visa of Fox is valid and existing.
Taule said they intend to challenge the resolution of the BI by filing a motion for reconsideration this coming week.
Based on the order received by the camp of Fox on Thursday, the BI stated that the nun is an “undesirable alien for allegedly participating in political activities in the Philippines.”
In a separate statement, Taule said that Fox has been doing her missionary work in the country for the past 27 years, undisturbed by any deportation case.
“Hindi namin maintindihan ano ba ang ikinakasakit ng feelings ng gobyerno na ito kay Sister Pat. She did not even say anything bad to the President. What she did is selflessly serve the oppressed sector of the Philippine society at walang masama doon,” Taule explained.
“If that is undesirability in the eyes of the government, what it is that is desirable in this society?,” she added.
Meanwhile, in a media briefing on Friday, Sister Fox said she was surprised with the order and hope that they will overturn the decision of the BI.
Should the deportation pushed through, Fox said it will be hard for her to immediately bid goodbye to the people.
“Mahirap ang deportation. for me. I would like to know if I leave, maayos ang pag-alis ko, tapos na ang ginagawa dito, paalam nang mabuti sa mga tao, at hindi bigla-bigla ang pag-alis. I really hope it wouldn’t happen,” Fox, who turned emotional, told reporters.
The missionary nun stated she never thought of leaving the country to avoid all the issues being hurled at her by the government.
“I don’t think of leaving suddenly because the issue here is what is the truth and what is justice. There are certain issues that need to be addressed,” she said.
In the order dated July 19, the BI said Fox violated the limitations of her missionary visa stating that “alien missionaries seeking admission in the Philippines under pre-arranged visa must be actually, directly, and exclusively engaged in religious work in the Philippines. They must not engage in partisan political activity in any endeavor not consistent with their religious or missionary vocation.”
Taule said that the problem here is that the BI is limiting its definitions on what a missionary is or what is the work of Sister Fox.
“Helping the poor is not a risk to public interest, peace or order. In fact, she has given selfless service to the oppressed sector in the society,” Taule stated.
Fox has been the subject of criticisms by President Duterte who accused her of “badmouthing” his administration.
President Duterte said Fox deserves to be barred from the Philippines.
Fox, meanwhile, appealed to the President to take more notice of the society including the indigenous people, farmers, laborers, and fishermen and hear them out.
“Take more notice of the society kasi doon ang issues. For the 28 years we have been having training projects… it is what they are asking for. That’s what the President need to listen to,” she said.