MANILA (November 4)– Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox left the Philippines on November 3 for her native Australia due to an expired missionary visa. She was accompanied by religious and human rights groups, including supporters from indigenous people community.
“We wish Sister Fox well in her travel and we thank her for whatever good deeds she has performed during her stay in the country. Such acts, however, cannot exempt her from the punishment imposed by law as a consequence of her wrongdoing,” Chief Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Saturday.
Last week, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) announced that Fox’s visa status had been downgraded to that of a temporary visitor after her tourist visa expired. She was ordered deported in July because of her participation in political rallies against human rights abuses in the government.
“The law may be harsh but it is the law and obedience thereto excuses no one from compliance therewith,” Panelo added.
Human Rights Watch said that Fox’s case highlights a dangerous climate of impunity.
In a counter-affidavit that Fox signed in May to contest her deportation, she stated, “I am a missionary and I happen to be assigned here in the Philippines. So, as part of my missionary work, I call on the injustices I found here which include imprisonment of farmers or members of indigenous communities for trumped-up charges.”
Earlier this year, President Rodrigo R. Duterte called out the Australian missionary. “You don’t have the right to criticize us,” Duterte said. But Fox said she was not fighting the government but was only promoting the human rights of Filipino farmers, works and indigenous peoples.
But Panelo said that the missionary nun should just “follow the law, whether here or elsewhere.” Otherwise, he added, “the law of cause and effect will operate against her, as it did in this particular instance.”- Jiann Padillo/ NewsLine