Philippines scraps Australian nun’s expulsion

Manila (dpa) – The Philippine Department of Justice on Monday nullified an order by the immigration bureau to expel an Australian missionary for allegedly engaging in political activities.
The Bureau of Immigration (BI) had revoked the missionary visa of Patricia Fox, a 71-year-old nun from the Congregation of Our Lady ofSion, on April 23 and ordered her to leave in 30 days because she had participated in political protests.
But Fox appealed the order with the Department of Justice, saying she was not given due process because she was not allowed to explain her case.
In a resolution nullifying the expulsion order, Justice SecretaryMenardo Guevarra said that while the BI can cancel a visa, it “doesnot mean that it can be withdrawn without legal basis.”
“What the BI did, in this case, is beyond what the law provides, thatis why it has to be struck down,” he added.
Guevarra ordered the BI to start a hearing into Fox to determine if the charges against her merit the cancellation of her visa and her deportation.
“Until a final resolution of the visa cancellation and/or deportation proceedings is reached, or until the expiration of her missionary visa, whichever comes first, Sister Fox may continue to perform her duties as a missionary in the Philippines,” he said.
Fox has denied joining anti-government rallies, but admitted participating in protests advocating for human rights.
She welcomed the justice department’s decision, saying,  “I’m very happy. That’s good news. I’m just pleased. I’m quite surprised actually.”
Fox added, “We will just have to wait and see what happens, whether that affects the deportation case also, because that is separate from the visa issue.”
Philippine officials have stressed that foreigners are expected to follow the limitations of their visas and exercising political rights is not one of the privileges when visiting the country.
In April, immigration authorities deported European politicianGiacomo Filibeck when he was barred from entering the Philippines as the guest of a local socialist party.