Palace justifies Australian nun's arrest

Ruth Abbey Gita

MALACA√ĎANG on Tuesday, April 17, defended the Bureau of Immigration's (BI) move to arrest an Australian nun for alleged "political activities and anti-government demonstrations," saying such acts were apparent breach of the conditions imposed by the Philippine government on the alien residents.

"In all countries of the world, foreigners are subject to compliance with minimal conditions. And one condition that we impose on all foreigners is that they desist from participating in any form of political activities," Roque said in an interview on Boracay Island.

"Apparently, BI has information... that Sister Patricia Fox has been involved in political activities and that's why her temporary permit to stay in the country is now being considered to be revoked," he added.

The Palace official's statement came a day after the BI arrested Fox, a 71-year-old Australian nun and a human rights advocate, for purportedly "attending protest rallies and engaging in political activities."

Earlier Tuesday, the bureau said Fox's supposed acts were a clear violation of the "conditions of her stay" in the country.

Fox was detained overnight at the BI office, before she was released Tuesday afternoon upon the recommendation of the BI Legal Division, which found her visa to be valid.

Her arrest followed the deportation of Giacomo Filibeck, an official of Party of European Socialists, who was informed upon arrival at the Mactan Cebu International Airport on Sunday, April 15, that he has been blacklisted and could not be allowed to enter the country.

Filibeck, who is critical of the Duterte government, was also accused of being engaged in political activities.

The Australian nun's detention has sparked outrage among various groups, including human rights and religious organizations.

According to a statement by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, Fox has been working in the Philippines for 27 years, helping farmers and indigenous peoples.

Fox's missionary visa was issued on October 15, 2017 and is valid until September 9 this year.

The BI, in a statement also released Tuesday, announced Fox's release after a day in detention "after it was established that the Australian nun holds a valid missionary visa and, thus, she is properly documented alien."

It said Fox will undergo futher investigation to determine whether deportation charges should be filed against her. (SunStar Philippines)