MANILA, Philippines — An Australian nun whose missionary visa in the Philippines was revoked after the president complained about her joining opposition rallies said Thursday that social advocacy and human rights are part of church teachings.
The Immigration Bureau gave Sister Patricia Fox 30 days to leave the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered an investigation into the 71-year-old as an “undesirable” foreigner.
Fox is a coordinator of an order of Roman Catholic nuns called Notre Dame de Sion and has been working with the Filipino poor for almost 30 years. She has joined rallies against Duterte and his government, which has been criticized at home and abroad for waging a brutal war on illegal drugs that left thousands of mostly urban poor suspects dead and for stifling dissent.
“This isn’t just my fight. It’s like the attack … on the whole church, the role of the church, the role of foreign missionaries, the role of human rights workers,” Fox told a news conference.
She said that part of her wants to leave but she also realizes that “there are principles here that you have to fight for.”
“I don’t regret it (getting involved in social advocacies) and I think what makes me not regret it is how grateful I am for the people who came out because they’re the people I’ve been working with for a long time,” Fox said.
Although she could possibly return on a tourist visa, Fox said “it’s hard to continue the missionary work if you’re just a tourist because, number one, we’re not tourists, we’re nuns. We were assigned here to the congregation not as tourists.”
The government has increasingly turned against foreign critics. Giacomo Filibeck, an Italian deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, was denied entry at an airport on April 15 following his criticism of Duterte.