By LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO
The lawyer of Australian missionary nun Patricia Fox yesterday said they will avail of all legal remedies to fight her right to stay in the Philippines.
“We will assert that she didn’t do anything wrong and that she should be given due process of law,” lawyer Jobert Pahilga said.
Pahilga said they plan to file a counter-affidavit as well as challenge the latest order of BI forfeiting her missionary visa.
In a press briefing in Quezon City yesterday, Fox said what is happening to her is also an attack to the church.
“Para sa akin hindi lang laban ko ito kasi parang ang atake dito ay ang buong simbahan, ang papel ng buong simbahan, ang papel ng foreign missionaries, papel human rights workers,” she said.
The 71-year-old nun faced the media a day after the Bureau of Immigration canceled her missionary visa and ordered her to leave the country on the grounds that she is an “undesirable alien” engaged in political activities.
BI said Fox may still enter and leave the country as tourist.
Prior to this, Fox was also detained at the BI last April 16 and was released the next day.
Sr. Patricia said she was surprised with the BI order.
“I hope there is a due process so I can explain what is missionary work,” she said.
In a statement, the nun already said that as a Christian, their mission is to bring God’s Kingdom to here and now, and so she got involved both with projects, such as training in organic farming, to uplift the livelihood of the farmers, but also to advocate with them for their rights to land, livelihood, peace, justice and security, all universal human rights which the church sees as “integral” to her mission.
Fox also believes it would be difficult for her to continue her missionary work as a “tourist.”
“It’s difficult to continue the missionary work if you are a tourist. First, we are nuns and we are assigned here not as a tourist,” she said.
Redemptorist priest Oliver Castor of the Rural Missionary of the Philippines said what the Duterte administration did to Fox was similar to what the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos did in the past.
“Marcos also asked a number of Columbian missionaries to be deported,” he said.
“Like what she said, this is not just an attack to her personally but this is an attack on the church, on the mission of the church. That’s why this is a call to the leadership of the Church in the Philippines, let us speak out. Let us not just take this sitting down. By all means let us assert our right,” added Castor.
The RMP official said the church should act on the case of Sr. Pat amid the attempt of the government to silence the church.
“This is really a violation of the right not only of Sr. Pat but also that of church people who promote justice for the poor,” said Castor.
“We don’t see any reason why this is being done to Sr. Pat except to stop any criticism against the government. This is clearly religious…persecution to those doing their mission and apostolate to the poor,” he added.