By Jeffrey Damicog
Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox on Monday asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to recall the deportation order issued by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) against her.
Fox, whose missionary visa is also set to expire on Sept. 5, told reporters that she is baffled why the government would want to deport her since she did not violate the conditions of her stay in the country.
“I’m surprised because I’ve been here for 28 years and I haven’t done anything different in the last couple of years,” she explained.
This was also reiterated by her legal counsel, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) lawyer Katherine Panguban.
“Sister Pat did not involve herself in so-called political activities but ginagawa niya yung fact-finding missions, humanitarian missions na ginawa niya in the past 27 years (she only did fact-finding missions, humanitarian missions which she has been doing for the past 27 years),” Panguban said
“Lahat ng yan ay part ng kanyang missionary work (All of that are part of her missionary work) and moré importantly part of her right to freedom of expression,” she added.
Accompanied by her lawyers from the NUPL, Fox filed at the DOJ on Monday her petition for review against the BI’s August 23 resolution which affirmed its July 19 deportation order.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the petitioner (Fox) respectfully moves that the Order dated 19 July 2018 as affirmed by the Order dated August 23, 2018 be reversed and set aside,” read her petition filed by her lawyers from the NUPL.
Aside from following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to have her kicked out of the country, the BI based its deportation order from the report of intelligence officer Melody Penelope Gonzales that Fox participated in rally in April in front of Coca-Cola’s Davao City distribution center.
“The petitioner maintains that she did not violate the terms and conditions of her missionary visa since the documents submitted by the Bureau of Immigration, through Agent Gonzales, did not show that the petitioner was engaged in anti-government activities but are consistent with her missionary work of promoting peace, social justice and human rights; that, therefore, would not make her an undesirable alien for her work was much desired by the people she served—the farmers, the indigenous people, the workers, the poor and the marginalized,” read her petition.
Fox also pointed out in her petition that what she did is part of her exercise of her freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“To reiterate, when the petitioner joins rallies and fact-finding missions and similar activities, she is not violating the law. She is merely exercising her right, and she can do so whether the same is part of her missionary work or not, since such right is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. She is afforded the same protection enjoyed by Filipino citizens,” the petition stated.
“Clearly, the Government is restricting and curtailing without any factual and legal basis the exercise of petitioner’s rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly guaranteed and protected, not only by the Constitution but also by the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and the ICCPR (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), it the Deportation Order stands, finding her undesirable alien unfit to stay further in Philippine territory,” it pointed out.
The Aussie nun also reminded that Gonzales “has the burden of showing that the political activities participated by the petitioner are anti-government activities or protest actions against the policies of the government which would be act aliens are not allowed to be involved in.
“But Agent Gonzales had not overcome that burden. And the acts referred to by her report are acts of advocacies which the petitioner, as a religious and missionary at that, has constantly been engaged to in her 27 years in the country,” she stressed.