Australian missionary Sister Fox will leave the Philippines – for now

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Bureau of Immigration (BI) ordered the embattled Sister Patricia Fox to leave the country by Saturday, November 3.

Fox’s lawyers at the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said on Wednesday, October 31, that the Australian missionary will not defy the order and will leave the country – for now. It temporarily ends her 3 decades of missionary work in the country, helping peasants and farmers.

Fox had earnestly resisted orders to leave the Philippines, but her battle temporarily ends with the downgrading of her missionary visa to a tourist visa that expires November 3. The BI did not grant the request for an extension of the tourist visa.

“We will not allow the government to forcibly expel Sister Fox out of the country given her stature as a respected missionary nun and human rights defender, neither will we give them the wicked pleasure of gloating over this injustice,” said the NUPL in a statement.

It added: “Sister Fox will leave the Philippines with a clear conscience that she has done nothing wrong and illegal during her 27 years of stay in the country.”

Pending deportation case 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Wednesday that the denial of a tourist visa extension will not affect the pending appeal before his office related to the missionary’s deportation case.

“If Sister fox eventually wins, her name will be removed from the immigration blacklist and she may return to the Philippines,” Guevarra said.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an investigation into Sister Fox, angered by her so-called political work. The government accused Fox of violating a prohibition against foreigners to be involved in partisan activities, citing as evidence photos of Fox joining rallies.

“She intends to come back in the Philippines as soon as President Duterte is out of power and another government, more receptive to dissent and who recognizes missionary and human rights work, is in place,” said the NUPL.

Fox, who has lived in the Philippines for almost 3 decades, could be the 4th foreign missionary deported under Duterte. This is seen by critics as a sign that the Philippines is on the road back to dictatorship. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.