Austrlian missionary Patricia Fox on Monday asked the Department of Justice to reverse the decision of the Bureau of Immigration revoking her missionary visa and ordering her deportation, saying it should uphold constitutional guarantees on the protection of human rights.
In a seven-page reply to the Immigration’s comment, Fox, through her lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, says her participation in protest rallies, which was the basis of Immigration’s order to deport her, was not in violation of the laws of the Philippines.
She says her joining fact-finding missions, press conferences and the rallies of leftist groups “are manifestations of the right to freedom of expression and assembly to which the petitioner is entitled to.”
“They are also consistent and in accordance with the representation that the petitioner and the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion made in the application for a change of admission status and the application for extension of stay and support for her in the country. They are further in consonance with the mission of petitioner’s congregation and the teaching of the Catholic faith which the petitioner has vowed to follow and disseminate beyond borders and race,” Fox says in her pleading.
She says Immigration cannot arbitrarily revoke her missionary visa, citing jurisprudence that only in cases where public interest is put on the line can the State be allowed to revoke a privilege it had granted to any person.
Fox, 72, says she cannot be considered someone against the promotion of public interest.
“Petitioner now humbly invites the Honorable Office to breathe life to the constitutional guarantees on the promotion and protection of human rights,” Fox says.
She says that the Philippine Constitution, law and prevailing jurisprudence give “utmost respect and deference” to the right to free expression and peaceful assembly, which may only be curtailed if it threatens public welfare.
“If Filipino citizens may only be restricted from exercising their rights to freedom of expression and to peaceably assemble where there is clear and present danger, the same is also applicable to foreigners like the petitioner,” Fox says.
Immigration earlier asked the Justice department to dismiss the petition of Fox as the bureau’s Board of Commissioners ordered the deportation of the missionary nun and her inclusion in the bureau’s blacklist to prevent her from returning to the country.The bureau cited as basis for its order several photographs showing that Fox engaged in several partisan political activities sometime in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018―including those where she reportedly demanded the release of political prisoners, joined the rallies for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, and a labor rally in Davao City.
The BI also considered President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier statements branding Fox as an undesirable alien by joining political rallies.
“In fact, the President even publicly admitted that it was upon his instructions to investigate Fox for disorderly conduct for participating in rallies.”
In an earlier order, Immigration revoked Fox’s missionary visa for allegedly violating its conditions.
The Justice department reversed the bureau’s order last May, but when her missionary visa expired last month, Immigrations denied the nun’s request for an extension.