Asia-Pacific

Temporary reprieve for Australian nun facing deportation from Philippines

Sister Patricia Fox, right, has been given a temporary reprieve from deportation from Philippines. Source: AAP

An Australian missionary nun is hopeful of a review of her case, after a deadline for her deportation from the Philippines was extended until June 18.

Australian missionary nun Sister Patricia Fox feels relieved at being granted a temporary reprieve on deportation from the Philippines, where she has spent 28 years helping the poor.

She has expressed gratitude for the widespread support in the Philippines and Australia, where an ecumenical service is planned for June 2 in recognition of her ordeal.

Supporters of Australian Roman Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox rally outside the Justice Department in Manila, Philippines.
Supporters of Australian Roman Catholic nun Sister Patricia Fox rally outside the Justice Department in Manila, Philippines.
AAP

"Now I am hopeful, but we will have to wait for a review of my case by the Secretary of the Department of Justice," she told AAP.

"This is a first step, but there is still a long way to go."

Her comments follow a decision by the overwhelmingly Catholic's nation's Secretary for Justice, Menardo Guevarra, to extend a May 25 deadline for her deportation until June 18.

The decision requires that the country's Bureau of Immigration comment within 10 days on the latest in a series of appeals by Sister Fox claiming she had not been afforded due process.

She would have a further five days to reply and after that Guevarra could require a series of what he referred to as "clarificatory hearings" to achieve a "just resolution of this appeal".

Asked whether the nation's President Rodrigo Duterte could still intervene to have her forcibly removed for involvement in human rights' protests, she replied; "Well, I think he is still unhappy with me."

Sister Fox had last month been part of an international group that investigated recent extra-judicial killings in the southern Philippines, where Duterte was previously a long-serving mayor.

The 71-year-old had her missionary visa downgraded to a visitor's visa and was subsequently given 30 days to leave the country.

She admitted Friday's deadline for her to leave the country "was a bit stressful."

"But I have had so many messages of support from people in Australia - it has been really good," she said.

The Catholic Church in a statement said while there had been a temporary victory, Sister Fox and her lawyers would not be complacent as it seemed that "no less than the most powerful man in the country, the President, who wants her out of the country."

If the Bureau of Immigration's order were to be upheld, the case would set a "dangerous precedent" for all foreigners engaged in missionary work in the Philippines to help the poor, oppressed and the marginalised, the statement said.

"This is a serious threat and blatant attack on universally-recognised rights to freedom of expression and peaceable assembly," the Church said.

"We all represent Sister Fox in this grim situation of human rights in the Philippines."

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