Immigration

Australian nun fights deportation from Philippines

Australian Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox prays during a mass, at the Baclaran Church, Wednesday, May 2, 2018. Source: AAP

An Australian nun ordered to leave the Philippines has slammed the country's Bureau of Immigration in a counter-affidavit.

Lawyers for an Australian missionary nun facing deportation from the Philippines say the country's Bureau of Immigration has "no right to define her missionary work" as she fights the decision.

Sister Patricia Fox, 71, was taken on April 16 from her house to the immigration bureau in Manila where she was detained for "illegal political activities".

She has since been ordered to leave the country within 30 days due to violating her missionary visa.

In a counter-affidavit filed on Friday morning, the nun's lawyers argue the bureau's investigation was "sloppy" and her right to due process was "gravely violated".

Sister Fox's visa was cancelled without notice and hearing, they say, and she was not given the opportunity to refute the allegations against her.

The bureau made a "malicious, sweeping and erroneous assumption and conclusion of facts and law" in accusing her of going beyond the limits of her missionary work.

"The BI Intel Division has no right to define and delimit what constitute the apostolate and missionary works of the Sisters of Our Lady of Sion," the affidavit says.

"To allow them to do so would violate the provision of the Constitution on free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship."

In the document, Sister Fox claims the argument that she should only do missionary work in Quezon City is "absurd", and the activities she has joined are neither political nor partisan, but "part and parcel of her apostolate and missionary work".

Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox gestures as she is interviewed by reporters after she was released from custody at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila
Australian missionary Sister Patricia Fox gestures as she is interviewed by reporters after she was released from custody at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila
AAP

She admits to joining rallies, gatherings and assemblies of farmers or indigenous people and holding banners including some that read "stop the killings" and "respect human rights".

"Those are universal calls directed to everyone not just the government," the document says.

Sister Fox calls for the case to be dismissed for "utter lack of merit, factually or legally" and for her visa to be reinstalled.

AAP understands the nun's legal team is now waiting for a resolution within 10 days.

The action against Sister Fox, who has been in the Philippines since 1990, comes amid a wider clampdown on critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch