BI rejects Fox's plea for missionary visa extension

By Ferdinand Patinio

October 8, 2018, 4:03 pm

MANILA -- The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has denied with finality the motion for reconsideration filed by Australian nun Patricia Anne Fox to extend her missionary visa.

The two-page order, signed by BI Board of Commissioners last Oct. 4, noted that the motion contains “merely a reiteration or rehash of arguments already submitted, and found to be without merit.

Likewise, the order issued by Commissioner Jaime Morente, Deputy Commissioner J. Tobias Javier, and OIC Deputy Commissioner Marc Red Mariñas noted that Fox “failed to raise any new and substantial arguments.”

This leaves Fox with the option to have her visa downgraded in order for her to stay in the country.

“Downgrading is the process that will revert her status to a temporary visitor’s visa, and she will be given 59 days starting from the date of the expiry of her visa,” BI spokesperson Dana Krizia Sandoval said in a statement.

“Non-compliance of the order may result in another deportation case against her,” the BI official added.

Fox’s missionary visa expired last Sept. 5. She applied for an extension of her missionary visa, which was petitioned by the Superior of the Religieuse De Notre Dame De Sion, Inc., but was denied last Sept. 13.

The Australian nun is likewise the subject of a separate deportation order from the BI, which she appealed to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Sandoval added that they may grant Fox the temporary visitor’s visa upon downgrading, without prejudice to the resolution of her appeal at the DOJ on her deportation.

Meanwhile, the camp of the Australian nun said that as of Monday afternoon, they have yet to receive the copy of the BI’s order.

It noted that Fox is looking to file her comment on the petition for review she filed on her deportation case.

“Sr. Pat hopes that the DOJ will settle the substantive issues raised in our Petition for Review particularly on the right of foreigners to their exercise of freedom of expression and assembly, universally recognized by both domestic and international laws, which the BI refused to squarely address,” it added.

The statement also reiterated the main reason of the Australian nun why she is in the country.

“Sr. Pat maintains her position that her standing in solidarity with the poor and oppressed in the Philippines, for almost three decades now, is an essential element of her mission as a Church worker and more importantly, a valid exercise of her right to freedom of expression and assembly,” it added.

DOJ to decide on Fox plea vs. deportation

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that following the Bureau of Immigration (BI)'s ruling, the matter on Fox's deportation is now to be resolved by his office.

"The BI has denied Sister Fox's motion for reconsideration regarding the non-renewal of her missionary visa. The BI has also submitted its comment on Sister Fox's petition for review on the deportation order. The matter is now submitted for the DOJ's consideration," Guevarra told newsmen.

"What was denied by the BI was the motion for reconsideration of Fox's missionary visa. But she was directed to downgrade and apply for a temporary visitor's visa instead, which has a validity of up to 59 days,The petition for review on the deportation order, on the other hand,will be decided in due time," Guevarra added.

Fox earlier challenged the government's order for her deportation from the country for allegedly taking part in partisan political activities.

Guevarra earlier asked the BI to file a formal comment on Fox's petition for review of the government's deportation order .

The BI found that Fox violated the terms of her missionary visa and recommended barring her re-entry into the country after several photographs showed her engaging in political activities since 2013, such as demanding the release of political prisoners, joining rallies for land distribution in Hacienda Luisita, and a labor rally in Davao City.

She was asked to report to the immigration bureau following reports of her taking part in anti-government activities last April.

“The power to deport aliens is lodged in the President of the Republic of the Philippines. The Commissioner of Immigration exercises this power, however, as the qualified political agent of the President. As the administrative alter-ego of the President in deportation cases, the actions of the Commissioner of Immigration relative to the arrest and detention of undesirable aliens are, unless reprobated or disapproved by the President, presumptively the acts of the President,” the BI's 10-page ruling stated. (With reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)