DOJ chief assures fair BI probe on Aussie nun

MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday assured it will fairly apply the country's immigration law on the case of 71-year-old Australian nun Patricia Anne Fox who is allegedly engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations.

Fox was arrested last April 16 and was detained at the BI office in Manila, where she stayed overnight.

She was ordered released on April 17 after the BI established that she holds a valid missionary visa and a properly documented alien.

Fox was apprehended following reports that she violated the conditions of her stay by engaging in political activities and anti-government demonstrations.

Fox, who has been living in the country for 27 years, has made human rights and helping peasants her advocacies. She was arrested in 2013 for reportedly joining protests in Hacienda Luisita.

"While she was released from temporary detention, Sister Patricia's case is still undergoing investigation. Our action will be based on the factual findings of the Bureau of Immigration (BI). Our immigration laws shall be fairly and uniformly applied," he told reporters.

Under the law, the BI may order the deportation of Fox should it find after investigation that she violated the immigration law through issuance of a Summary Deportation Order (SDO).

The SDO, however, could be appealed before the BI board of commissioners, whose decision could also be reviewed by the Secretary of Justice.

Guevarra also reiterated that the government has a "sovereign right to restrict the participation of aliens in domestic political activities and internal affairs of our country." He said the government is ready to defend this policy enforced through a BI order before any court.

Last week, MalacaAang stressed that foreigners are prohibited by law to engage in any political activity in the country.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Jr. mentioned this prohibition in relation to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's order to conduct a probe against Fox.

Roque said the Australian national is now under preliminary investigation, which would determine if she should be subjected to deportation proceedings.

The Palace official further stated that the President's directive for the BI to probe Fox is in accordance with the country's law disallowing foreign nationals to participate in any political activity in the Philippines.

Malinaw po ang ating batas (The law is clear). Those in the Philippines are here because of our consent for them to be here. But they are not allowed to engage in any political activity, he stated.

Roque likewise underscored that there was no crackdown on foreigners who are critical of the Duterte administration.

This is not the first time a foreign national was detained in the country over similar issues, Roque stressed.

In 2013, authorities arrested a Dutch activist who was caught in photos taunting a crying policeman during a protest against President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency