MANILA – Uncertainty continued for an Australian nun on Friday as she battled the Philippine government to reverse her deportation, allegedly ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Patricia Fox, who lived and worked in the Philippines for almost three decades, was arrested on April 16 by the country’s immigration officials and detained for 24 hours.
The nun alleged that while she was waiting to hear the details of her detention, an official had let it slip that Duterte was annoyed with her for her political activities, which violated the conditions of her missionary visa.
“I don’t see myself as a very political person. I don’t think I have been involved in any political activities. (But) It is very difficult to draw a line between human rights and politics,” Fox told EFE.
According to Fox, Philippine people don’t have the right to strike or rally – a basic human right guaranteed in the Constitution, something which hasn’t happened since the time of Ferdinand Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for two decades, almost half of that time under martial law.
Fox asserts informing disadvantaged people of their basic rights, is “part of the Church’s teachings.”
“Is that anti-government? That is basic human right,” stresses the nun, who says that her case is being used to warn off foreign missionaries and humanitarian workers.
Fox is still living in the Philippines legally while her case is being reviewed by the Department of Justice, but is aware that she will have to leave sooner or later.
The mother superior of the Catholic nun congregation known as the Notre Dame of Sion said she has never directly criticized Duterte, although she has expressed her opinion about the current state of democracy in the country.
“The number of deaths and the war of drugs – I think right now a lot of people are scared,” she added.
Fox added that the human rights situation and the militarization of civilian life are especially serious in Mindanao, which has been under martial law since May 2017 owing to the threat of jihadist terrorism.
“And I think they (government) don’t want the truth to come out,” added Fox, who was arrested when she had just returned to Manila from a trip to the island in southern Philippines to investigate the situation.
Fox is, however, determined to fight until the end as she feels, irrespective of the outcome, her case will set a precedent.
“This affects many foreigners – missionaries, volunteers, humanitarian or academic workers – who can be deported and included in a blacklist for just doing their job,” she says.