BI de­tains, re­leases Aus­tralian nun amid furor

Business World - - THE NATION -

THE Bu­reau of Im­mi­gra­tion (BI) on Tues­day re­leased Aus­tralian nun Pa­tri­cia Fox a day af­ter she was or­dered de­tained by BI Com­mis­sioner Jaime H. Morente for “vi­o­lat(ing) the con­di­tions of her stay by en­gag­ing in po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties and anti-gov­ern­ment demon­stra­tions,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment by the agency.

Mr. Morente acted upon the rec­om­men­da­tion of the BI le­gal divi­sion and re­leased Ms. Fox “for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter it was es­tab­lished that the Aus­tralian nun holds a valid mis­sion­ary visa and, thus, she is a prop­erly doc­u­mented alien,” the state­ment said.

Op­po­si­tion groups Gabriela Women’s Party and Mak­abayan Bloc con­demned the de­ten­tion, with Gabriela Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Emmi de Jesus say­ing in a press state­ment, “Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia was ar­rested and de­tained for merely par­tic­i­pat­ing in a re­cent in­ter­na­tional fact- find­ing and sol­i­dar­ity mis­sion on the rights abuses in Min­danao. This can be a very loose pre­text by the Duterte regime for nab­bing any­one who stands up for hu­man rights and against the at­tacks on civil lib­er­ties.”

Se­na­tor Nancy Bi­nay-An­ge­les on Tues­day said the BI should fo­cus on go­ing af­ter ter­ror­ists and drug syn­di­cates en­ter­ing the coun­try, in­stead of ex­ert­ing “ex­ces­sive use of au­thor­ity” over the 71-year- old Aus­tralian mis­sion­ary.

“How can a 71-year- old nun be a threat to so­ci­ety? Sis­ter Pa­tri­cia has been help­ing farm­ers, lumad (indige­nous peo­ples), and those in the marginal­ized sec­tor of so­ci­ety,” said the se­na­tor, who heads the Sen­ate com­mit­tee on so­cial jus­tice, wel­fare, and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment.

For his part, Se­na­tor Fran­cis N. Pangili­nan pointed out the ar­rest came af­ter Euro­pean Union So­cial­ist Party of­fi­cial Gi­a­como Filibeck was barred from at­tend­ing a lo­cal con­fer­ence and later de­ported for be­ing in BI’s black list.

“The emerg­ing trend on crack­down against for­eign ac­tivists in the coun­try is alarm­ing as ex­hib­ited by the ha­rass­ment and ca­sual ar­rests of the two hu­man rights ad­vo­cates, who were not even in protest ac­tiv­i­ties or ral­lies when taken into cus­tody,” he said in a state­ment.

“These in­ci­dents will trig­ger more ques­tions on what the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to con­ceal,” he added. — and

AUS­TRALIAN nun Pa­tri­cia Fox is es­corted by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers upon her re­lease Mon­day.

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