Manila (AFP) – The Philippines on Wednesday ordered the deportation of an elderly Australian nun who angered President Rodrigo Duterte, accusing her of engaging in illegal political activities outside of her missionary work.
Sister Patricia Fox, 71, who was briefly detained last week, would be the second foreigner who has spoken out against Duterte’s policies to be kicked out as the government hits back against critics of his human rights record.
The Philippine immigration service said it had cancelled the missionary visa of Fox, a long-time Manila resident who said she joined a recent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses against farmers by soldiers fighting communist rebels.
“We direct Fox to leave the Philippines within 30 days from receipt of this order,” the immigration service said in a statement, adding that the nun had “engaged in activities that are not allowed under the terms and conditions of her visa”.
After the authorities held the Catholic nun overnight last week but released her without charges, Duterte announced he had personally ordered her arrest as a warning to foreign critics to stop criticising his government.
“I ordered her to be investigated… for disorderly conduct,” Duterte said in a speech last week.
“You insult me under the cloak of being a Catholic priest, and you are a foreigner! Who are you? It is a violation of sovereignty,” Duterte said, apparently referring to Fox, a member of the Manila-based Sisters of Our Lady of Sion.
The nun’s lawyer Jobert Pahilga told AFP the deportation order violated her rights and an appeal was underway.
“We will file a motion for reconsideration, unless of course they arrest her,” he said.
Pahliga added he had just this week received an immigration service order giving his client 10 days to answer government allegations that she had violated the terms of her visa.
Duterte has previously launched verbal attacks against critics of his government’s narcotics crackdown, which has killed thousands of alleged dealers and users.
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor launched a preliminary investigation in February into allegations of extrajudicial killings.
This prompted Duterte to withdraw from the ICC and threaten to arrest the chief prosecutor if she travels to the Philippines.
Manila also deported earlier this month Italian Giacomo Filibeck, deputy secretary general of the Party of European Socialists, who had previously condemned “extra-judicial killings” in Duterte’s anti-drug war.