Aussie nun wants to stay in Ph, asks BI to reverse leave order

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MANILA — Australian nun,  Sr. Patricia Fox,  wants to stay in the country, a reason her camp filed a petition before the Department of Justice on Friday, seeking to reverse the Bureau of Immigration’s (BI) decision to forfeit her missionary visa and ordered her to leave the country.

Fox appeared at the DOJ together with her lawyer, Kathy Panguban, where she filed a 24-page petition for review asking the department, through Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, to overturn the BI’s leave order on May 17.

“The appeal that we filed before the Department of Justice under the rules this will stay the execution of the order of the Bureau of Immigration, therefore the missionary visa of Sr. Patricia Fox is still valid, pending, the decision of the Department of Justice,” Panguban told reporters after filing the petition.

In its order, the BI dismissed Fox’s arguments that the bureau forfeited her visa without due process and that allegations that she engaged in political activities were not backed with solid evidence.

It reiterated that Fox acted beyond allowed activities under her visa by working outside Barangay Amihan in Quezon City, where she claimed she would render her missionary work when she applied for her visa.

The order likewise stressed that the strict rules on evidence do not apply to immigration cases, which are administrative proceedings requiring only the lowest quantum of evidence.

Though the BI order is final and executory, Panguban cited that under the BI’s Omnibus rules, it will only become final and executory if no appeal has been filed before the DOJ.

“Based on the BI’s Omnibus Rules, the execution of the order will be stayed,” she explained. “Let’s wait for the decision of the DOJ.”

With this, the lawyer appealed to the BI and the DOJ not to arrest Fox and have her deported.

“PI appeal to the BI to recognize its Omnibus rules and existing laws,” Panguban said.

For her part, Fox said she was grateful to her lawyers and her supporters, especially those who joined her at the DOJ.

While her deportation case remains under appeal, Fox intends to continue with her missionary work as a human rights defender.

Meanwhile, Guevarra on Friday ordered the BI to comment on the petition filed by Fox seeking a reversal of the April ruling.

The BI has 10 days to submit its comment while Fox would be given five days to reply upon receipt of the copy of the comment. Both deadlines are non-extendable.

Guevarra said the DOJ “reserves the right to call such clarificatory hearings, as may be necessary, to arrive at a just resolution of this appeal.”

On Thursday, BI Spokesperson Dana Sandoval explained that if the Australian nun chooses to stay in the country, another deportation proceeding will be conducted against her for not complying with the order to leave.

“The legal division will say she is noncompliant with the order to leave. She has to submit an affidavit on what happened. And then they will see if she is guilty of the offense. If it would be proven that she is guilty, she would be deported,” Sandoval said in an interview, noting that there will be a hearing and she has to submit an affidavit.

The BI official said they will follow the decision of the DOJ, whatever it may be, after Fox’s camp said they will appeal the BI’s decision forfeiting the missionary visa issued to her.

“The order denying her Motion for Reconsideration (MR) is final and executory already. If she will file before the DOJ, we do recognize that the DOJ is a higher office. So whatever order they give us, we follow,” she said.

“The order is to leave on May 25. If she leaves the country and goes back as a tourist, she can enter for as long as she is not on the blacklist,” Sandoval said.

Another deportation proceeding could lead to blacklisting, she pointed out, adding that the Australian nun could apply for another visa but she has to leave and then return to the country.

“She has to leave the country because of visa forfeiture, (wherein) the alien is required to go out of the country. This is not the first incident of visa forfeiture. There were other cases before,” Sandoval said.

On April 16, Fox was apprehended by BI operatives pursuant to a mission order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente for violating the conditions of her stay in the country by engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations. –PNA

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