MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines deported Methodist missionary Tawanda Chandiwana of Mutare, Zimbabwe, after the Bureau of Immigration (BI) freed him from more than 8 weeks in detention.
The BI accused Chandiwana of overstaying and engaging in political activities.
One of Chandiwana’s lawyers, Kristina Conti of the Public Interest Law Center, told Rappler that the missionary left the Philippines at around 3 pm on Thursday, July 5.
Chandiwana is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe Friday night, July 6, Manila time.
The missionary had been detained by the BI for 8 weeks. He was first taken and detained by BI Davao on May 9, then was transferred to the BI warden facility in Bicutan, Taguig, on June 5.
Chandiwana was released on Thursday, or the same day that he left the country, Conti said.
“Tawanda is free!” the National Council of Churches in the Philippines said in a Facebook post on Friday.
Conti said Chandiwana had an escort until the last leg of his flight, as his passport was with the BI, which turned it over to the airline. The airline “will release the passport to the passenger upon final deplaning.”
The BI earlier said Chandiwana “will be deported pending the submission” of his clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation.
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The BI ordered Chandiwana and two other Methodist missionaries – Adam Thomas Shaw of Ohio, USA; and Miracle Osman of Blantyre, Malawi – to leave the Philippines because they allegedly joined political activities.
The agency also accused Chandiwana and Shaw of overstaying.
Shaw already left the Philippines for the US on Wednesday, July 4, Conti said.
The NCCP said it continues to pray that Miracle Osman will “be finally given clearance to leave the country soon.”
“Victory upon victory, we will not stop until all of them are safe from the persecution of this government. We shall overcome,” the NCCP said on Friday.
Conti said of the 3 missionaries and their church: “While the decision of the church and the mission board is to pull them out of the Philippines for security reasons, we will pursue options and avenues to clear their record. They are not terrorists. Their mission work here has been well within the bounds of law, the church’s values, and their vocation.”
The BI has blacklisted all 3 Methodist missionaries from entering the Philippines.
Before the 3 Methodist missionaries made headlines, the BID had also accused Australian Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox of joining political activities.